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Spurs lose to Rockets on Christmas day, 111-98

The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Houston Rockets on Christmas day, 111-98. The Rockets shot 50% from beyond the arc and James Harden scored 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets handed the Spurs their seventh loss of the season.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It's time for a Game-Thread recap. This is where I use your comments from the Game-Thread to help me recap the game. Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy the fun. Your comments are in bold, mine are not.

Muscle shirts?
by hurts2bgood

Yes, the Spurs wore some awkward-looking sleeved jerseys in their Christmas day bout against the Houston Rockets. All the teams that played today wore them. Personally, I'm not a fan. It makes them look like Junior High students out there. In addition, the players either look great or awful, with very little in-between. For example, Dwight Howard can pull it off but our Land Walrus, Boris Diaw, looked like a fat kid out there. I'd be fine if those were never worn again, but the NBA clearly needs to make more money selling weird jerseys so I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them.

We haven't scored yet? Jeez.
by Dark Black

It was an embarrassing showing for the good guys early on, which basically was the story of the game. The Spurs got off to a terrible start and forced Pop to call upon Manu Ginobili less than two minutes into the game. Manu responded scoring the Spurs' first 9 points, but it was an entirely disappointing start by the Spurs. In their last meeting on November 30th, the Spurs spotted Houston 23 points before showing up. Tonight, the Spurs found themselves down 27-9 in the first quarter. The early hole would prove too deep to overcome on this Christmas day.

Not sure if this is a Spurs or Cowboys game.
by play_splitter
Nah, not enough turnovers to be a Cowboys game.
by cartoonspurs

I feel like the Cowboys keep me grounded. I think that's why I still tolerate them. So, the Spurs forget to show up on Christmas day and lose yet another game to the NBA's elite, but at least they aren't the Cowboys. Jason Garret is my least favorite coach in all of professional sports. I'm pretty sure that he makes the wrong decision every time he's forced to make one. He thinks pass when he should think run. He runs when he should pass. His defense is the most worthless thing I've ever seen. His clock management is terrible. I think the average 12-year-old Madden player does a better job with timeouts. But it's great because the Cowboys keep me level. Whenever the Spurs have games like the one tonight, I can always think about the Cowboys and appreciate the Spurs' overall professionalism. The Cowboys are the anti-Spurs, if you think about it.

Spurs have hit 4/20 shots.
by play_splitter

Yep, and they were open. That was the most disappointing part. I don't mind when the Spurs just get outplayed. Well, I mind it, but it is easier to accept. What kills me is when the Spurs play well and just miss shots. That was the case tonight. The Silver and Black had so many open shots and they simply failed to convert them.

I can't wait till that d-bag interviews Pop
by JonnyJam

Israel Guitierez is the worst at everything. I can't stand him. I hate his writing and now ESPN decided that we need more of him. Why? He brings nothing to the table. His thoughts are hollow and really the only thing he is known for is being biased. I thought that was a negative thing in the world of sports media. Oh right, Bill Simmons made a fortune off of being biased. But at least Bill Simmons is a guy's guy that you'd want to have a beer with; if I had a beer with Israel things would get violent.

We help too much and give up too many threes.
by hurts2bgood

This was a huge problem in the first half. The Spurs were over-helping and giving the Rockets wide-open looks from deep. This strategy helped the Rockets get off to such a great start. I didn't really understand it at all. I think we should just play Dwight straight-up and if he gets a good look, hit him hard. I don't think Tim should ever guard Dwight unless we're in the fourth quarter. I thought Pop should have used Baynes in this game, but he chose to use Ayres instead. Oy vey.

Danny Green continues his hot passing
by Kondor
by rank

Danny "Big" Green has turned into a massive migraine headache. After his outstanding shooting in the playoffs last year, every team knows they can't let him get open looks. So they run him off the 3-point line and then things get ugly. I can see his thought process unfold as he drives and it's ridiculous. "My defender just went flying by, that means I have to dribble. Uh oh, I'm not good at dribbling so I'll just pick it up right here. Crap, no one has come to guard me. I guess I have to shoot. But I suck at shooting anything other than a 3-pointer. Should I shoot? Should I not? Should I shoot? Should I not? I'm going to shoot. Maybe.... Crap, I missed."

I really hate the rockets
by BrooklynSpur

Honestly, I opened the game thread just to see if the community hated the Rockets as much as I do. It turns out that y'all are much nicer than I am. I can't stand James Harden. I can't watch him make an offensive move without thinking he's flopping. Dwight is such an immature mess that it's just pitiful at this point. The NBA promoted a feel good story about Chandler Parsons getting a buzz cut to show support to a kid with cancer. It's admirable ... but shouldn't he have shaved his head? He's supporting some sick child and I can't stop thinking he might have got a buzz-cut because he thought he'd look good in it. I really can't talk about the Rockets like a reasonable human being. I see narcissism in everything they do.

Rockets shooting 60% from 3 pts. Surely that has to regress at some point.
by xfg

The Rockets finished the game shooting a blistering 50% from beyond the arc. I guess it regressed, but not to the point that xfg was hoping, I'm sure. When a team shoots 50% from beyond the arc, and takes 24 of them, I think you can just call it a loss without looking at the rest of the box score. Each of those 12 threes were emotional daggers that destroyed San Antonio's momentum. At some point, 12 threes are just too many for a team to overcome, no matter how good they are.

Leave the starters on the bench
by bet2win

I actually thought this wouldn't be the worst option, but here's something to ponder. I think the Spurs' bench is much more talented than other benches, but if you put them against a starting unit I bet they'd struggle. What we really need is for our starters to win their match-ups. I think they are still trying to find their identity, as weird as that is. I mean, the Spurs have been playing together forever and one would assume that they have it all figured out. But the team has evolved as the years have passed, and I think they are still trying to establish their pecking order. Should Kawhi get more looks? Should Tony just shoot every time or should he look to get everyone involved? How many touches does Tim need? And if Marco starts instead of Danny, that means one more person who needs the ball has been added to an already loaded lineup. It's weird, but I think the Spurs will use the next 20 games or so to figure themselves out. I'm not going to allow myself to get worried until later in the season.

Tough game. This is the second team this week that scores 40 on us in a quarter.
by LatinD

Yep, 40 points puts the team in quite a hole. It fairly unbelievable that the Spurs made this a game. I mean, I can't really figure out how the Rockets could have played better. That was their "A+" game and they couldn't blow the Spurs out. Parsons couldn't miss. Dwight dominated. Harden closed the game in video game fashion. Meanwhile, the Spurs should probably get a C+ for the game. Tim missed jumper after jumper. Tony forgot to show up. The only guy that really played well was Manu, and he's had better games. In retrospect, it's crazy the Spurs were in this one for 48 minutes.

Terrance Jones is killing us :/
by RobertoDR

Jones has two 20+ scoring outings this year with one coming tonight. He joins the all Spurs-Killers team which includes Reggie Jackson. Reggie has two 20+ point games this year, both against San Antonio. It's unexplainable and very unfortunate. Every time the Spurs play an elite team it seems like a guy that isn't supposed to be good has a career game against them.

2 pt game!
by RobertoDR
by TambaIsDaMan

It takes a lot of energy and mental focus to come back against an elite team. Unfortunately, once the Spurs get close, a letdown is almost unavoidable. You could almost hear them give a sigh of relief after they cut the lead to two points. They let their foot off the gas for just a moment and before they knew it, they were down by eight again.

I remember when I was excited about Jeff Ayres.
by PSherman42

I'm still rooting for him. I like how he tries to dunk every time he gets the ball and I like how his uncle joins the conversation every once in a while. Ayres' tenacity near the rim is an edge that the Spurs lack. But he can't catch the ball. Like Danny Green, I'm pretty sure I can hear Ayres' internal monologue. "I'm open. Uh oh, I think Manu sees me. He makes tricky passes. I need to get ready for this pass. Here it comes. Come on, hands. Come on, hands. Crap, I fumbled it. That's okay. I'm so open there's no one near me. I just need to grab it. Come on, hands. Come on, hands. Crap, I just knocked it out of bounds."

I hate the feeling of being held at arm's length. That's what this game feels like.
by Trey Felder

If you hate it, think about how draining it is for the Spurs. When I played basketball there was nothing more taxing than being down for an entire game. It feels like you're suffocating. It takes everything you have to get back into it, and if you lose the momentum once you get close, it's pretty much over. You never get tired when you're winning. But if you are down, it saps your strength.

Harden is such a good closer.... I wish Parker was his usual self :(
by xfg

Harden absolutely took the fourth quarter over. He scored 16 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth. They were all tough shots, defended very well by the Spurs. He just made them. He has so much junk in his game that he's impossible to defend. Plus, he's always looking to draw the foul so the Spurs' defenders are simultaneously trying to avoid fouling him while contesting his shots. It doesn't work and ends up giving Harden enough space to get off his shots. On the other end, Tony had a tough night. He finished with just six points on three of 11 shooting, and had just four assists in the game. The Rockets were very physical with him and Dwight was always waiting for him under the hoop. It's definitely a little worrisome.

For how poorly the Spurs have played so far this season, being 22-6 is pretty good.
by PSherman42

San Antonio lost 111-98 to the Rockets, dropping the Spurs to 22-7 for the season. The Rockets improved to 19-11. The Rockets have dropped games to bad teams this season. They lack the appropriate fear that Pop demands the Spurs play with. I expect the Rockets to finish behind the Spurs for the fourth or fifth seed in the West, but to be one of the scariest teams in the playoffs. As I mentioned in my last recap when we lost to the Rockets on November 30th, I think they are one of the four best teams in the NBA: Miami, San Antonio, Indiana and Houston. To me, they are much scarier than OKC.

For the Rockets' perspective, please visit The Dream Shake.