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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

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The injury-riddled Spurs attempt to improve their disappointing month of December versus the Houston Rockets.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
December 28, 2014, 6:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW, RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

December has been a month to forget for the San Antonio Spurs. They've gone through the gauntlet; as they've faced playoff team after playoff team, and had to deal with nagging injuries to key players. San Antonio is currently sitting at 6-9 on the month, and will look to get a rare win against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

The Rockets have been extremely successful versus the Spurs in recent years, having won 6 straight against the silver-and-black. Given their success so far this season, and San Antonio's recent struggles, Houston will have a good chance at making it 7 straight wins.

The Spurs have listed Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Patty Mills as out for Sunday's game, leaving them short-handed again. Parker's absence has been particularly impactful, because without him or Mills, San Antonio lacks a point guard that commands respect from a defense. Cory Joseph has been solid in their stead, and to his credit, has improved a lot as a scorer. But, he is simply not the same offensive threat that Parker or Mills is, which means that the defense can take an extra man to disturb the offensive flow. Expect whomever guards Joseph to crash down on post-ups, and play the passing lanes.

The man to keep an eye on for the Rockets is their all-world scorer, James Harden. In addition to putting the ball in the basket at a high rate, he has also improved his all-around game this year. Harden is kicking out to shooters on drives, finding Dwight Howard in pick-and-roll, and rebounding at a higher rate than he did last year. Maybe the most eye-popping improvement to his game this year is his defensive effort. On a large scale, he's still not that good of a defender, but on select possessions he can be more of a nuisance to ball-handlers, and force turnovers.

Outside of Harden, it'll be interesting to watch Josh Smith, and see how he continues to try and fit in with his new team. In his first game as a Rocket, Smith was used mainly in pick-and-roll, with most of his scoring opportunities coming when he'd get the ball just above the elbow, where he would either pull a jumper or drive to the basket. He's a poor jump-shooter, so expect the Spurs to sag off of him to load the paint, and also play tighter on shooters.

@

Houston Rockets (21-7

San Antonio Spurs (18-13)

December 28, 2014

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

6:00 PM CDT

TV: FSSW

Radio: WOAI 1200AM

Starters

Patrick Beverley

PG

Cory Joseph

James Harden

SG

Danny Green

Trevor Ariza

SF

Marco Belinelli

Donatas Motiejunas

PF

Tiago Splitter

Dwight Howard

C

Tim Duncan


For the Rockets' perspective, check out The Dream Shake.

Game prediction: Spurs by 2.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com