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Sometimes you're the punching bag, sometimes you throw the punches

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Following a nasty loss to the Golden State Warriors, the San Antonio Spurs took out their frustration on the Houston Rockets.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

When I was growing up, my family had a little makeshift dojo in our garage. It had a old, worn-out mat, some punching bags and manikins, and even some nun-chucks if you wanted to practice your skills.

My father was a black-belt in jiu-jitsu, and helped train at a local gym, so he created a space for himself to work on his craft, It also came in handy in using it to drain energy from a rambunctious little kid that never wanted to go to sleep on time.

As I grew up, as with any kid, whenever there was something I couldn't handle and I got upset, my dad would always send me to the dojo so I could punch out my issues on a manikin instead of getting into real fights. 15 minutes of punching and kicking away, I'd always feel better. It was refreshing to let those feelings go instead of bottling them up.

This is how the San Antonio Spurs just treated the Houston Rockets. The Spurs had come off a horrifyingly bad loss to the Golden State Warriors, and were in bad need of correcting themselves.

All of the conversation was about how San Antonio was even with the Golden State, as the Spurs had a record that was nealry as good as the Warriors'. They also had a historically good defense, which looked as if it could match up with the hot shooting strokes of Stephen Curry & Co.

But San Antonio looked out of their element from the tip, and proceeded to get shellacked by 30 points. It was a dominant win for Golden State, and they left no doubt as to who the better team was.

Make no mistake: Even though it was just one regular season game, that loss to the Golden State Warriors was embarrassing for the Spurs. This is a team that has championship aspirations, and when it came time to play the defending champs, practically everyone on the team played almost as badly as possible.

So, the Spurs turned the Houston Rockets into a glorified punching bag. They played physical defense, not giving Houston an inch to work with. On offense, the Spurs played just as physical, as Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge (who had one of the worst games of his career against the Warriors) established themselves in the post, and relished any contact on the way to their buckets.

This win was therapeutic for the team, and the fans. A faction of the San Antonio faithful seemed to overreact a bit after the Warriors game. Winning big over the Rockets serves as a friendly reminder that oh, right, the Spurs are still really freaking good at basketball.

San Antonio suffered a bad loss on Monday, but have taken it in stride, which is important in a league where games come so quickly. They now prepare for their next test: a road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, another contending team that recently got walloped by the Warriors. Depending on how they play on Saturday, we'll find out if the Spurs have put the loss at Golden State to bed for good.

GAME MVP

LaMarcus Aldridge - 25 points on 9-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, 5 assists

After a nightmare of a game versus the Golden State Warriors, Aldridge took any frustration he had built up out on the Rockets. He was extremely efficient scoring, and was ferocious in attacking the offensive glass, racking up 6 boards on that end. With fans and media coming down on him harshly following the Golden State game, it had to feel good for him to go out and show his dominance again.

NUMBERS ON THE BOARD

130: San Antonio's total score for the game. This is the Spurs' highest point total for a game on the year. The whole team was on point from the jump, and they never took their foot off the gas.

38.4: Houston's field goal percentage. James Harden had a decent scoring night by his standards, scoring 20 points on 5-10 from the field. He didn't get much support, though, as only 2 other Rockets (Dwight Howard and Corey Brewer) shot 50% or better).

27: Points the Spurs scored off turnovers. The Rockets only turned the ball over 14 times, a solid mark for an NBA game, but San Antonio was able to squeeze every last point out of those extra possessions.

10: This game was put to bed so early that the Spurs were able to play all of their players at least 10 minutes, with the end of their bench playing most of the 4th quarter.

GAME NOTES

  • Danny Green shot 6-8 from 3 versus Houston. It felt like Green was trying to make up for his misses this year all in one night. He got the lid off the rim early, and the flood gates opened up. While Green still has a pedestrian mark of 35.2% from deep on the year, he's been hot lately, shooting 50% in January. Danny Green is back, y'all.
  • San Antonio's ball-movement was as sharp as ever in this game. All but 2 Spurs recorded at least 1 assist, and they had 34 total on 50 made baskets. When you move the ball the way they did and create open looks, it's hard to not knock them down.
  • This game was a bit of a drag to watch. Both teams combined for 50 total player fouls, and 73 total free throw attempts. Heck, Houston alone had 52 attempts at the line, due to San Antonio going with the Hack-A strategy on Howard and Clint Capela.
  • Boban Marjanovic recorded the second double-double of his career, scoring 13 points and grabbing up 10 rebounds, all in just 17 minutes of playing time. He was the only interesting thing about the 4th quarter, as San Antonio ran the offense through him in garbage time. This gave Marjanovic the chance to show off a flurry of moves under the basket, as well as his ability to keep the ball high on offensive rebounds and putting it back in the hole.

TWEET GAME