After an unsatisfying performance against the Dallas Mavericks earlier in the week, game #29 wasn’t much better for the San Antonio Spurs. The primetime matchup with the Houston Rockets was over almost instantly, as the two headed monster of Chris Paul and James Harden led a furious offensive charge inside the Toyota Center.
While the Rockets looked like they were shooting into the Grand Canyon, the Silver and Black appeared to be aiming at a shot glass. Couple that with some careless turnovers and lethargic transition defense and it asds up to an embarrassing night on the hardwood for the good guys.
The Spurs have been punched in the mouth this week. Twice. The good news is that championship teams aren’t made over night. The race to the Larry O’Brien is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are the takeaways from another forgetful night of basketball.
- LaMarcus Aldridge was a scrapper against the Rockets. The big man consistently outworked an undersized Houston front court and controlled the glass when he was on the floor. Unfortunately, LA did not have anybody else around him who was ready to answer the call when the deficit was still manageable. What was a tad alarming to me about the former Longhorn’s performance though, was how much he pressed when his teammates on the perimeter began to struggle. These are the games where I would like to see LaMarcus methodically attack the defense on the low block, which should in turn open up the offense for everyone else on the floor.
- Other than a few head scratching turnovers, Kawhi Leonard continued his impressive play in his second game back from injury. It’s clear that the Klaw is still finding his footing after missing the first 27 games of the season, however he abused every defender the Rockets threw at him in the first half. As #2 gets his legs back we should start to see those turnover numbers go down and his defensive pressure begin to turn up
- Rudy Gay, Danny Green, and Pau Gasol must play better against top-flight teams, there’s no other way around it. I don’t care if Kawhi and Aldridge combine for 70 every night, this team will go nowhere without the Three G’s carrying their weight. I thought they all played with a lot of energy and while the effort was there the results werent. It was such a lopsided game in part because all three failed to capitalize on some very makable looks. We all know the level these guys are capable of playing at, and if the Spurs are going to get out of this rut, they will have to get more out of these veterans.
- For as impressive as Houston was, I wonder if the Rockets are capable of maintaining this kind of performance all season long. They hit 11 three pointers in the first half on 50% shooting. Despite the hot shooting from an offense that mirrored the “7 seconds or less” Suns during certain stretches, the Houston defense wasn’t the juggernaught the ESPN crew made it out to be. The Spurs missed a bundle of open looks and continuously shot themselves in the foot with careless passing. If the Silver and Black have an average shooting night, this game goes down to the wire.