The Spurs played their best defensive game of the season, with LaMarcus Aldridge showing his usual dominance inside, but today he had help on offense with Rudy Gay and Patty Mills providing scoring and key defensive plays. The Rockets, with Chris Paul sitting out, had trouble scoring over the stout defense of the Silver and Black, and were dominated by the Spurs big 3. The Spurs won easily over the team with the best record in the league as they got closer to locking up a playoff spot.
NOTE: There is a coded message hidden in this recap.
LaMarcus Aldridge opened the scoring with a post up in the paint, but the Rockets answered with a Capela dunk. The Rockets rushed out to a 6-2 lead but Dejounte Murray brought the Spurs back with 6 straight points. The defense of the Silver and Black was very good, limiting the Rockets to 11 points in the first 7 minutes, but the offense was not good, and they only managed a tie, with Dejounte Murray carrying the offense with inside scoring. Coach Pop put in Rudy Gay and Tony Parker and the Spurs began to create some separation. Rudy Gay helped out with some tough play, 8 points total, including 4 points in the final 6 seconds of the quarter. James Harden kept it close for the Rockets by driving the basket and the score was 26-17 after one.
Eric Gordon started off the second quarter with a triple. Rudy Gay took over with a block of Gordon’s layup and a slam to bring the crowd to its feet, and D’Antoni to a Rocket timeout. After the timeout, a Pau Gasol bucket gave the Spurs their first double digit lead at 30-20. A Gerald Green deep three cut it back to 7, and before you knew it, the Rockets went on an 8-0 run and the lead was just 2. The Spurs pushed the lead back to 7 with a Kyle Anderson euro-stepping past Gordon for an easy floater in the lane. The Rockets cut into the lead with Harden shooting free throws, but the Spurs finished the quarter with tough defense and led 46-38 at the half.
LaMarcus opened the scoring in the second half and the Spurs once again led by double digits. The Rockets drew fouls on the Spurs and were in the bonus early in the quarter, shooting free throws after just over three minutes gone in the quarter. Despite that advantage, the Spurs kept pace by going inside to Aldridge and maintained the lead for much of the quarter, extending the lead to 11 with a Rudy Gay jumper in the paint with just over 2 minutes left in the quarter. The Spurs led 75-66 after 3 quarters, despite the Rockets shooting 16 free throws in the quarter. I may have counted that wrong. It seemed like 60.
Rudy Gay opened the fourth with a basket for the Silver and Black to push the lead back to 11. The defensive intensity was also turned up to 11 as both teams had trouble scoring to start the quarter, and Pop needed an early time out. Patty Mills hit a three and the lead was back to 11. Eric Gordon, who had been killing the Spurs all day, picked up his fifth foul and the Patty began to hit his shots as the Spurs led by 16 halfway through the quarter. The intensity of the Spurs picked up and they were able to get turnovers, turning them into fast break points or open three point shots, leading 94-74 with 5 minutes left after a Danny Green Tarheel Triple. The Spurs went into a slowdown game, but the best slow play of the day was Kyle Anderson picking Harden’s pocket at midcourt and sauntering down the lane for a slow break layup with just over 2 minutes left to put the Spurs up 99-79. Both teams emptied their benches after that play and the Spurs won it 100-83.
- April Fools and Easter on the same day? Madness.
- P.J. Tucker was injured in the second quarter bouncing his head off a camera on the baseline. He also hit the ground hard after being upended by Patty Mills while going for a rebound. He’s tough guy, he stayed in the game after both plays.
- Rockets were missing Chris Paul on the court for today’s game, but he did end up hindering my enjoyment of the game with an extended sideline interview in the second quarter.
- Intensity, Manu Ginobili has it. He might be the oldest player on the team, but he’s also the most passionate.
- Logically, this wasn’t supposed to be much of a contest today, the best team in the NBA against a team that’s struggling to make the playoffs. The Spurs fought hard today.
- Fifty wins is still on the table. All the Spurs need to do is to win their final 5 games.
- Offensive rebounds made a big difference as Houston was able to use second chance points to climb back into the game.
- Offensively, the Rockets best play was shot faking at the three point line and drawing touch fouls on the Spurs defender as they went by and the Rockets shooter leaned into the defender’s path.
- LaMarcus Aldridge is incredible. Unstoppable, really.
- Spurs had 2 consecutive 2 on 1 fast breaks where they ended up with no points. They didn’t have proper spacing and didn’t press the advantage, and Patty Mills ended up dribbling the ball out. It happened again early in the fourth quarter, but then the Spurs adjusted with Patty hanging back and getting open 3 point looks. I can’t remember this team ever having so much trouble executing fast breaks.
The Spurs travel to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for their last back to back of the season, the first game against the Clippers on Tuesday night at 9:30 PM and against the Lakers Wednesday night at 9:30. Gotta love those late-starting west coast games. The Clippers will be fighting the Spurs for one of the final playoff spots, and the Lakers always make it tough on the Spurs.