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Spurs come from behind to stomp Rockets

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The Spurs played pretty marginal basketball for the first 1.5 quarters, then flipped a switch and dominated the Rockets from that point on to earn their 9th straight W.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 110, Rockets 98 - Apr 8, '15

The Spurs got off to a rocky start, seemingly unable to get good, high-percentage looks or even slow down a white-hot Rockets offense, falling behind by as many as 9 before coming alive at the 5:39 mark in the 2nd, going on back-to-back 8-0 runs separated by a single Houston bucket, and closing out the half with a 4 point lead.

The second half was all Spurs as the good guys pushed their lead up to 14 in the 3rd and 22 in the 4th before coasting to their 9th straight victory.

After a series of really quiet games in a facilitator role, Tony Parker put up big numbers in this one, with his stellar individual play keeping the Spurs around in the first half, when the Spurs defense was hemorrhaging points and the rest of the squad seemed unable to buy a bucket.  

The Rockets were on fire early in this game, putting up an Offensive Rating of 124.7 to start the game, with the Spurs scoring but struggling to keep up due to their own 107.0 OffRtg.  After a 7-0 Rockets run put Houston up 8, Popovich called a timeout at the 5:39 mark in the 2nd.

I don't know what adjustments Pop made, but the Spurs defense came out of that timeout and shut Houston down while the offense roared into overdrive, with Houston's OffRtg plummeting to 83.4 while the Spurs' climbed to 121.8 for the rest of the way.  That's a 56.1 swing in Net Rating, from -17.7 to start the game to 38.4 to finish.  I just hope no Spurs were injured by that vicious whiplash.  It doesn't take a statistical wizard to know that 5:39 mark was the turning point in this game, but it's pretty fun to quantify just how drastic that shift was.

The intensity level in this one was really high in that first period when the Rockets were scoring in droves, but the Spurs soon imposed their will, out-hustling the Rockets, earning a 4.5 expected offensive rebounding advantage and winning the ballhandling battle as they nabbed 11 steals.  The Rockets were hot from deep, notching 40% to the Spurs 33%, but the Spurs dominated inside, putting up 62 points in the paint and hitting 55.4% of their 2-balls, to Houston's 49.2%.

Perhaps most tellingly, the Spurs seemed completely unaffected by Howard's presence inside, hitting 69.0% of their shots from within 5 feet.  Howard finished the night with 0 blocks and 3 goaltends, much to the delight of Sean Elliot, who continuously exhorted the Spurs to "challenge the shot blockers," which they did with apparent relish.  

On the other side of that coin, Tim Duncan anchored the defense with 4 of the Spurs' 7 blocks (Houston managed just 3), holding Houston to an acceptable 58.5% from 5 feet in.  Advantage: Big Fun.

(More analysis below)

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Rockets
Shooting (eFG%) 54% 52%
Ball Handling (TO%) 10% 15%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 30% 19%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 10% 19%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Rockets
Pace (No. of Possessions) 96.5
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.14 1.02
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.16 1.17
2-PT FG% 55.4% 49.2%
3-PT FG% 33.3% 40.0%
FT% 77.8% 62.5%
True Shooting % 55.6% 53.8%
Spurs
Rockets
Offensive Rating 115.8 100.0
Defensive Rating 100.0 115.8
Net Rating 15.9 -15.9
Spurs Rockets
Passes / poss. 3.0 2.5
% of FGA uncontested 52.6% 48.8%
Points in the paint 62 52
Second chance points 13 9
Fast break points 10 26
Spurs Rockets
Assists 21 25
Steals 11 7
Turnovers 9 13
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
3.56 2.46
Spurs Rockets
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.0 10.5
Offensive Rebounds 13 8
Difference 2.0 -2.5

Spurs Shot Chart

Rockets Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Tony Parker 26 22.0 0.86 27 Pts (13-18 FG, 1-3 FT) 1 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 2 TO, 1 PF 39% 68% 126.3 93.3 33.1
Kawhi Leonard 35 19.2 0.55 20 Pts (9-15 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 TO, 2 PF 23% 60% 121.8 102.7 19.1
Boris Diaw 27 14.9 0.55 15 Pts (7-14 FG, 1-3 3PT ) 9 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 PF 23% 57% 127.0 88.0 39.0
Manu Ginobili 18 11.9 0.66 13 Pts (5-8 FG, 3-4 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 22% 61% 139.9 119.9 20.0
Aron Baynes 25 11.0 0.45 8 Pts (4-6 FG, ) 12 Reb (4 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 12% 58% 132.4 99.4 33.0
Tim Duncan 28 11.0 0.40 6 Pts (2-5 FG, 2-2 FT) 10 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 4 Blk, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 2 PF 13% 44% 114.4 99.3 15.1
Cory Joseph 22 8.8 0.40 4 Pts (2-5 FG, ) 2 Reb (1 Off), 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 10% 63% 127.0 91.8 35.2
Danny Green 26 7.0 0.27 10 Pts (3-10 FG, 2-6 3PT, 2-2 FT) 2 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 2 PF 20% 45% 119.0 97.4 21.7
Reggie Williams 10 2.3 0.22 3 Pts (1-4 FG, 1-3 3PT ) 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 18% 36% 63.2 118.2 -55.0
Jeff Ayres 6 1.8 0.29 2 Pts (1-3 FG, ) 3 Reb (1 Off), 23% 37% 58.3 100.0 -41.7
Matt Bonner 5 1.1 0.22 0 Pts 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Blk, 0% 0% 40.0 116.7 -76.7
Kyle Anderson 6 1.0 0.16 2 Pts (1-4 FG, ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 31% 28% 58.3 100.0 -41.7
Patty Mills 6 -2.0 -0.32 0 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-2 3PT ) , 1 Ast, 1 PF 23% 15% 58.3 100.0 -41.7

Show Rockets Players

Tony Parker's was just fantastic.  27 points in 25 minutes on just 18 shots and a 68% Usage Rate?  'Nuf said.  

Kawhi started this game really quiet, scoring just 2 points in the first 16 minutes of the game.  After the turning point timeout in the 2nd, Leonard went on to score 18 more and grab 4 steals. That Leonard's 20/3/2/4 seems pretty pedestrian at this point says more about his transformation than any gaudy single game stat line ever could.

The Spurs bench performed extremely well in this one.  Diaw, Ginobili, Baynes and Joseph were all at the top of their respective games.  Diaw's 9 boards paired great with his abuse of Houston's forwards in the post.  Ginobili went 3-4 from downtown and looked great driving to the basket.  Baynes grabbed 12 boards to go with his 8 efficient points and provided some great rim protection, though he did it without notching any blocks.  

Cory Joseph's stat line doesn't look all that impressive, but he played a crucial role, locking down James Harden, who was held to 6/15 shooting from the field and was only afforded 8 free throws.  Coming out of that pivotal 2nd quarter timeout, Leonard kick-started the offense, but it was Joseph's defense on Harden which anchored the Spurs suddenly lock-down defense.  Joseph may not provide the spacing and shooting we wish he did, but on Wednesday at least, his defensive presence more than made up for it.

I also have to note that Reggie Williams hit a key, non-garbage time 3!  Bravo, Reggie!

Spurs Index: 90.9 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 43.8% 21.2
Shooting (eFG%) 54.2% 20.2
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 81.0% 21.2
Defense (DefRtg) 100.0 20.0
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 48.8% 8.4
Total 90.9

Rockets Spurs Index: 92.9 Show Breakdown

Not a particularly Spursy game here, as Parker scored on lots of dribble drives, bringing the assist rate down and Houston took lots of jump shots and got some wide open fast break buckets to bring their uncontested looks up to 48.8%.

Interestingly, the Spurs seem to have proven this year that they can win in lots of different ways, winning games with great individual play, hot shooting, lock-down defense, transition offense, inside play, and of course blistering ball movement.  Hopefully that ever-expanding bag of tricks serves them well in the fast-approaching postseason.

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Definitions

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.

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