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Spurs drop winnable game against the Rockets despite Murray’s career high

The Spurs closed out the first half of the season with a loss

NBA: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

After going 1-6 on the road trip, it seemed inevitable the San Antonio Spurs would pull out a win to start their seven goad home stand, especially going against the rebuilding Houston Rockets. But mistakes and a lack of focus early compounded the Spurs to a lowly loss even with Dejounte Murray going for a career high 32 points.

The game started and ended with Dejounte showcasing one of his many skills, to start he was finding guys on the inside with ease, showing off his playmaking arsenal. The game as a whole had very little defense and was all offense — 28 points in the first 4 minutes. The Spurs did a bad job in transition defense, giving up mismatches and not being able to keep track of the trailing Rockets. Luckily, Bryn Forbes got hot down the stretch of the first quarter to bring the Spurs back to a respectable margin after giving up 39 points in the opening period.

Bryn started the second the same way he left off, with another 3 ball, courtesy of another Dejounte Murray assists. The Spurs were struggling to defend one on one and this allowed the Rockets players to drive into the paint without much resistance. San Antonio eventually took the lead midway through the quarter after getting out in the full court and finding Forbes for his 6th three of the half. Houston got a bit undisciplined late, giving up a flagrant and a technical foul in which the Spurs capitalized to give themselves a 67-63 half-time lead.

The third quarter began with the Rockets going to usual suspect Christan Wood over and over again. While the Spurs were going to an unusual suspect in Keita Bates-Diop for back to back three balls. San Antonio were doing a nice job of taking advantage of second chance opportunities, and were also exposing the road teams lack of defensive communication by attacking off the DJ-Jak pick-and-roll. After the Rockets offense had stalled early in the second half, it was then the Spurs time to stall on that end of the floor. The mostly bench unit that Pop had in were making too many mistakes. There was too much over dribbling, unnecessary passes in transition and certainly not enough movement. This stretch of play helped fuel some momentum for the visitors and even had them in front heading into the fourth; 91-90.

To start the final period, the Silver & Black showed a lack of focus and quickly found themselves down a few buckets. Coach Pop brought back in Dejounte which helped with the stability and flow of the team. This got the Spurs back to a one possession game. Houston were getting aggressive and attacking the paint, even using isolations and spreading the floor so San Antonio wouldn’t have any rim protection. For the home team, Keldon Johnson caught fire for two threes to keep the Spurs head above water. And just when you thought San Antonio were on the brink of taking the lead, the Rockets went ballistic. They hit tough jumper after tough jumper, mainly from Kevin Porter Jr who had been invisible for the first three quarters. A game that was in reach was suddenly a twelve-point affair. With under three minutes to go the Silver & Black needed something, and as mentioned earlier the game started and finished with Murray showcasing a certain skill. To finish the game he went off for 15 points, which included a number of threes, AND-1’s and a four point play. Unfortunately, the Rockets made just enough of their free throws to hold the Spurs from completing a miraculous comeback, San Antonio fell 128-124 to division rivals Houston.

Game Notes

  • Poor Stretches Of Play. The Spurs mainly lost this game because of two horrific stretches of play. The entirety of the first quarter and the end of the third. To give up 39 points to a team that had lost 11 of 12 to start the game just isn't good enough. The lack of concentration and defensive intensity was kind of staggering considering you would think they would be motivated to get back on winning ways after on getting only one victory on the road trip.
  • On The Mend. In positive news, San Antonio seem to be getting back to full strength again. Keldon and Devin returned in this game, while Derrick was questionable for the contest, signaling he may be back against the Cavs. That leaves only Doug McDermott and Tre Jones in Health & Safety protocols. Once they are back then the injury report will be empty besides Zach Collins who could return any game now.
  • “Woah, we’re half way there”. With the completion of this game the Spurs have now played 41 games. The half way point of the season. In their first 41 they finish with a record of 15-26, 11 games under 0.500 and just outside the 10th seed. They are therefore on pace to win 30 games which would give Gregg Popovich the all-time wins record for a coach.

Play of the Game

Skywalker

Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)

3rd place (1 point): Bryn Forbes | 32 mins, 21 points, 6/11 from three, team high +7

Bryn could have been a lot higher than third if he had continued his hot shooting from the first half into the second. 19 points in the first, 2 points in the second. That didn’t just have to do with Bryn missing shots, the Rockets defense adjusted and took away Bryn focusing on him when curling off screens.

2nd place (2 points): Jakob Poeltl | 31 mins, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 stls, 2 blks

Jakob is so vital to the Spurs because they don’t have another good rim protector available right now. Hopefully when Collins is ready to play he can be that, but for now San Antonio’s inside defense gets exposed whenever Poeltl sits. He also made 5/7 free throws against the Rockets which is always a plus.

1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray | 37 mins, 32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 3 stls

A career high 32 points for DJ. It’s actually pretty amazing he hadn’t scored that much before considering the season he has had. He was possessed to end this game, pulling up from three on multiple occasions and burying the shot. Then he would also drive and finish with contact for a number of three-point plays. It would have been nice to pull this game off so the stats would mean a bit more, but they certainly didn’t lose because of the play of Murray. 11 assists to 0 turnovers as well for the cherry on top.

Overall Leaderboard

1st - Dejounte Murray - 62pts

2nd - Derrick White - 40pts

3rd - Jakob Poeltl - 33pts

4th - Devin Vassell - 27pts

5th - Keldon Johnson - 23pts

6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 17pts

7th - Bryn Forbes - 12pts

8th - Thaddeus Young & Doug McDermott - 9pts

9th - Keita Bates-Diop - 5pts

10th - Jock Landale & Josh Primo - 3pts

11th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts

12th - Tre Jones - 1pt


Next Game: Vs Cavaliers on Friday

The Spurs will look to break their four game losing streak when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers to kick off the second half of their season. The Cavs have had a few injury problems this season but they have overcome them to be one of the surprises of the season, with them currently sitting 6th in the Eastern Conference. It will certainly be fun seeing Garland, Mobley and Allen come to town.