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Spurs finish preseason with win over Rockets

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

For the second game in a row Kyle Anderson got the start, this time in place of the injured Danny Green who is expected to miss a few weeks with a strained left quad. Jonathon Simmons also missed the game with a thigh bruise but the Spurs had the rest of their roster available for this one.

For the Rockets, James Harden missed this contest, as well as Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon. So the Rockets were far less than full strength but got a strong performance early from Nene, who was red hot, and scored eight of the Rockets’ first 10 points. In fact he was 4-for-5 while his teammates went 0-for-10 before the first timeout of the game with the Spurs leading 14-10.

How about a few highlights from the starters before we get into the deeper part of the bench.

Kawhi Leonard bounced back nicely after one of the worst shooting performances of his NBA career a week ago.

The Spurs took a seven-point lead into the second quarter and came out with a curious lineup: David Lee, Davis Bertans, Patricio Garino, Byrn Forbes and Patty Mills. And with that I’d guess that Gregg Popovich and his staff have narrowed down the 15th roster sport to either Garino or Forbes.

It’s going to be fun watching the already-rostered Bertans do his thing this year.

Not too long after that, Bertans came up with a rejection of Montrezl Harrell which to me is even better than him raining triples. After all, we all knew Bertans can shoot but if he can be a nuetral-to-plus on defense in the NBA the Spurs will have quite the player on their hands. He’s tall at least.

With no more gorgeous Tim Duncan outlet passes to soak in, maybe we’ll get the chance to see Kyle Anderson fill that role a little. Check out this positively Duncan-esque 34 court outlet from Slo-Mo to Pau Gasol.

The Spurs took a 50-38 lead into the half and Pop switched up the starting lineup, giving Forbes another look in place of Anderson. Forbes looked a little more comfortable in the third quarter, knocking down a pair of triples, including one from the corner with Corey Brewer closing out hard. Brewer caught Forbes’ hand and a four-point play followed.

Then Forbes came up with a nice block. The other guys fighting for that last roster spot made cases for themselves in the second half of the third quarter with Ryan Arcidiacono picking up a couple helpers quickly, and Garino and Joel Anthony knocking down a couple of buckets as the Spurs blew the “game” wide open at 79-59 late in the third. But this was Forbes’ night.

Interlude: How about another Bertans triple for fun. Dude is the real deal.

Maybe I just really miss Duncan and everything reminds me of him, but the following play brought the legend to mind. Also, I hope some of this preseason stuff translates into the real thing for Bertans.

Forbes then caught fire, hit a couple more triples and finished with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. That solidified it for me, I hope he gets the nod for the roster spot. Forbes brings the shooting that the Spurs are lacking. Patricio Garino is interesting, but I think Forbes could actually contribute some THIS season.

In the end the Spurs won easily, 114-99, and finished the preseason 4-2. Thank God this preseason is over.

It’s worth noting that Tony Parker looked good in the second quarter, scoring all ten of his points in that period. Kawhi was great in his limited time on the floor, scoring 15 points to go with four boards, two assists, a steal and a team-high +13 in his 18 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge had a nice night with 13 and 7, notching a +11 in the process. But those are known commodities, it will interesting to watch them when the game counts.

Manu Ginobili and Dewwayne Dedmon did not see the floor tonight, presumably for rest.

Up Next:

The real games begin!!! San Antonio starts their season on Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. It’s part of the opening night double-header and the Spurs/Dubs showdown will tip at 9:30 Spurs time. It sure would be nice to have Danny Green’s defensive prowess in that one but the Spurs will have to work around that loss.