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Spurs vs Rockets Study Hall: Spurs shoot down Rockets

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The Spurs took advantage of their opponent's woeful 58.1% FT shooting to down the Rockets in a sloppy, fast-paced game that saw the long overdue return of Patty Mills.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs vs. Rockets Dec 28, '14

Spurs 110, Rockets 106

Boy does it feel good to get this W.  The Rockets represent everything I hate about the NBA, so it felt great to see the Spurs stop their skid against a team that had beaten them the past 6 straight.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Rockets
Shooting (eFG%) 54% 57%
Ball Handling (TO%) 19% 24%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 27% 31%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 29% 40%

The Spurs lost three of the four factors and still won somehow.  How did they manage that?  Let's take a closer look.

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs
Rockets
Pace (No. of Possessions) 102.6
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.07 1.03
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.33 1.38
2-PT FG% 52.8% 59.1%
3-PT FG% 36.7% 36.4%
FT% 87.5% 58.1%
True Shooting % 58.8% 58.5%
Spurs
Rockets
Offensive Rating 108.3 102.3
Defensive Rating 102.3 108.3
Net Rating 6.0 -6.0
Spurs Rockets
Passes / poss. 3.8 2.7
% of FGA uncontested 49.4% 39.0%
Points in the paint 52 44
Second chance points 15 16
Fast break points 22 25
Spurs Rockets
Assists 22 20
Steals 12 15
Turnovers 19 24
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.79 1.46
Spurs Rockets
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.3 9.8
Offensive Rebounds 11 12
Difference 0.7 2.2

  • FT% - The number that should stand out to you here is the 58.5% FT shooting mark from the Rockets.  The Rockets made three fewer free throws in seven more attempts.  That doesn't win you a lot of close games.  The Spurs on the other hand hit at a fantastic 87.5% clip from the charity stripe.  That's does win you a lot of close games.
  • BCI - The Spurs turned the ball over 19 times, managed an awful 1.79 BCI and WON the ball control battle?  As Michael noted in his recap, Houston threw the ball away at a phenomenal rate, which led to lots of easy transition buckets for the Spurs.
  • Rebounding - The Spurs tripled Saturday's offensive rebound total in the first two minutes of play.  I think that says something about the energy level in both games.  The Spurs actually beat the expected OR mark, held the Rockets to an acceptable +2.2 in that category, not bad considering Houston leads the league in OReb%.  You can live with that.  (side note: Houston sits at 17th in the league in DReb%.  That's a pretty huge discrepancy, and I think it speaks to their lack of discipline.)

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Danny Green 35 29.0 0.83 24 Pts (6-13 FG, 3-9 3PT, 9-10 FT) 4 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 5 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF 24% 61% 115.4 95.3 20.0
Tim Duncan 31 20.7 0.66 16 Pts (6-12 FG, 4-5 FT) 8 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Blk, 3 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF 22% 55% 111.5 96.3 15.2
Cory Joseph 35 16.7 0.48 14 Pts (6-9 FG, 1-1 3PT, 1-1 FT) 6 Reb (3 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 3 PF 16% 57% 116.1 108.3 7.9
Manu Ginobili 24 16.3 0.67 15 Pts (5-7 FG, 2-4 3PT, 3-4 FT) 5 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO, 4 PF 23% 56% 111.0 112.5 -1.5
Boris Diaw 20 7.4 0.36 8 Pts (3-5 FG, 2-3 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF 13% 56% 110.2 123.5 -13.3
Aron Baynes 10 7.1 0.70 8 Pts (4-5 FG, ) 4 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 1 TO, 6 PF 24% 67% 112.1 133.9 -21.8
Tiago Splitter 21 6.5 0.31 4 Pts (2-8 FG, ) 4 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Blk, 1 Stl, 2 PF 17% 34% 92.4 98.8 -6.4
Matt Bonner 12 3.0 0.25 5 Pts (2-5 FG, 1-3 3PT ) , 16% 41% 122.7 61.1 61.6
Marco Belinelli 31 1.7 0.06 8 Pts (2-11 FG, 2-6 3PT, 2-2 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF 18% 31% 93.6 106.6 -12.9
Patty Mills 20 1.6 0.08 8 Pts (3-8 FG, 0-4 3PT, 2-2 FT) 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 5 TO, 1 PF 29% 31% 99.6 85.8 13.8

Green, Duncan, Joseph and Ginobili all had outstanding performances, with Green in particular having a fantastic night.   Michael noted that Pop seems to have grown more confident in Green's shooting at the close of games, and that confidence paid off as Danny sank 4 consecutive free throws (something no Rocket seemed capable of doing last night) to ice the game.  After some serious struggles from the line with games on the line, it was so refreshing to see some clutch FT shooting to finish one out.  Duncan threw in another great performance in only 31 minutes, and Cory Joseph was once again very efficient from the field.

It felt great to see Mills back out on the court.  Of course he was ice cold, particularly from deep where went 0-4, and committed five turnovers as he tried to get reacclimated.  The stat sheet may not have been kind to the little Aussie, but he made some big plays down the line, erasing the Rockets' last lead at the 6:59 mark with a huge 17` pull-up jumper, and then making one of the biggest plays of the game, forcing James Harden into a fatal turnover in the final minute of the game.  Mills may not be credited with any kind of stat for that one, but it was a huge play nonetheless.

Mills' return already seems to have taken some of the pressure to create off of Manu Ginobili, who scored 15 points on seven shots and managed five boards, four assists and two steals (we'll ignore the four TOs) and only had to play 24 minutes, which is just about right for the Argentine at this point.

They may not have put up huge numbers, but the Spurs got some great contributions from Baynes and Bonner.  Baynes was fantastic in the 10 minutes he played before fouling out (impressive!), and his 0.70 Adj GS/minute ranked second only to Green's.

Bonner went 1-3 from deep, but the one he did hit was probably the biggest shot of the game, putting the Spurs up nine with 2:24 to go.  The King of Plus/Minus also once again crushed that statistic (measured now in net Off/Def Ratings).  The Spurs held the Rockets to a 61.1 Offensive Rating while their own Red Rocket was on the court.  Make of that what you will.

Spurs Index: 95.4 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 56.4% 27.2
Shooting (eFG%) 53.6% 20.0
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 69.2% 18.1
Defense (DefRtg) 102.3 19.6
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 39.0% 10.5
Total 95.4

Low assist mark and poor defensive rebounding (again, you'll take it against the top OReb% team in the league) made this a decidedly un-Spurs-like game.

It's nice to see the Spurs' defense stabilize at near the 100 mark the past two games after giving 119+ against the Clippers and Thunder last week.  The Spurs had made their living earlier this year off their defense, notching a league-best 94.7 Defensive Rating in November before getting blown up in December for 105.1.  

A huge part of that has to be the absence of Kawhi Leonard.  Kawhi not only leads the team, but ranks eigth in the league in both Defensive Rating (94.4) and Net Rating (12.1), so when he's out, you'd expect to see a big drop-off in performance, especially defensively (Leonards 106.5 Offensive Rating is just +1 over the Spurs overall OffRtg of 105.5).

Let's hope the Spurs medical staff can get Leonard patched up and shutting down opponents soon!  [Insert joke here about OKC medical staff/Serge Ibaka]

The Spurs get a day of rest today, then travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies tomorrow night.  Here's to hoping they get their revenge after their last meeting's ridiculous 3OT heartbreaker.  Go Spurs Go!

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Definitions (with major credit to Bill Connelly over at our sister blog Rock M Nation)

eFG%: Effective Field Goal percentage. (via) Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Offensive Rating (offRtg): Points per 100 possessions.

Defensive Rating (defRtg): Points allowed per 100 possessions.

Spurs Index: The Spurs Index © is a just-for-fun formula that attempts to quantify just how "Spursy" a particular game is, based off averages for the 2013-2014 regular season. A perfectly average game would have a Spurs Index of 100. The formula consists of four factors which the Spurs are known for and lead or nearly lead the league in: Shooting (effective Field Goal %), Passing (Assist percentage), Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Defensive Rating. These metrics are weighted as follows:

Factor Weight Average
Passing (AST%) 30% 62.1%
Shooting (eFG%) 20% 53.7%
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 20% 76.4%
Defense (DefRtg) 20% 100.1
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 10% 40.8%
The values for each metric are determined based on how a particular game's performance compares to the Spurs 2013-2014 regular season average for that metric. For instance, the average effective Field Goal percentage for 2013-2014 was 53.7%. So if the Spurs shot 60% in a given game, the score for eFG% would be calculated by: (0.6 / 0.537) * 20, which would yield a "score" for that factor of 22.3.