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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets

Can the Silver and Black get back in the win column as they square off with their interstate rival?

Houston Rockets v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs started another losing streak as they dropped yet another tight contest to the Philadelphia 76ers in the finale of their seven-game homestand on Sunday night. Head coach Gregg Popovich and crew haven’t found much momentum after regaining everyone from health and safety protocols, but tonight could be a jumping-off point.

The Silver and Black are back on the road for a one-game excursion as they meet the Houston Rockets for the second time this season, seeking revenge for an earlier loss against their interstate adversary. Both teams have their rotational regulars intact, and though they each reside near the bottom of the standings, this should be an entertaining rematch.

San Antonio Spurs (17-30) @ Houston Rockets (14-33)

January 25, 2022 | 7:00 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — On Assignment) Josh Primo (Out — On Assignment), Joe Wieskamp (Out — Two Way), Devontae Cacok (Out — Two-Way)

Rockets Injuries: John Wall (Out — Not With Team), Daishen Nix (Out — Two Way), Usman Garuba (Out — On Assignment), Trevelin Queen (Out — On Assignment)

What To Watch For

  • The NBA nominated Dejounte Murray for Western Conference Player of the Week for the fourth time this season after the sixth-year floor general averaged 21.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 10.0 assists over his last four outings. Unfortunately, San Antonio hasn’t maximized their starting point guard’s unbelievable production as they only went 1-3 during that stretch. However, Dejounte and the Spurs should have a chance to feast on the offensive end as they face the last-place Rockets and their league-worst defense. Murray scored a career-high 32 points on the way to his seventh triple-double of the season in San Antonio’s previous meeting with their interstate rivals, and the Rockets don’t have the stoppers to keep him from replicating that success. Hopefully, the Spurs take care of business on their one-game road trip along I-10 and refrain from letting another stellar performance go to waste.
  • Eric Gordon was a thorn in San Antonio’s side in their embarrassing loss to the Rockets a few weeks ago, but Christian Wood is probably the guy who gives them the most matchup problems. The six-ten big man is one of the few centers, including Kristaps Porzingis, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Karl-Anthony Towns, who can shoot the three-ball and finish around the rim at an elite level. Those types of players don’t grow on trees, and it makes sense the Silver and Black feel their presence more than most teams, considering Jakob Poeltl is the only reliable rim protector on the roster. Pulling the towering Austrian outside of the paint and onto the perimeter opens up driving opportunities that wouldn’t typically be there. If Poeltl gets into foul trouble, that’s when things can get dicey for San Antonio. Drew Eubanks is a serviceable backup, and Jock Landale provides some three-point shooting, but they can’t match his two-way production. Keep an eye on the matchup between Woods and Poeltl because it could be the determining factor for the outcome of this contest.
  • Tuesday night features a battle between two rebuilding ball clubs on the opposite end of the spectrum in organizational philosophy and game plan. No one in the NBA gets to the charity stripe more often than the Rockets. Houston takes 24.4 free-throw attempts per game, and they also shoot 38.4 three-pointers per game, which is good for fifth in the league. San Antonio, on the other hand, ranks 29th in those categories. The Spurs get to the line 18.7 times each night and attempt 31.1 triples. Head coach Gregg Popovich and company were shorthanded when they fell to the Rockets earlier this season, and their lack of regular personnel played a part in their defensive struggles. Not only did San Antonio allow Houston to shoot 54.9% from the floor, but they gave up a season-high 32 free throws. Although the Spurs have been one of the worst defenses in the association even when healthy, they rarely send their opponents to the stripe. Derrick White and Devin Vassell will suit up this go-round, and that should make life more difficult for Jalen Green, Eric Gordon, and Kevin Porter Jr.

For the Rockets fans’ perspective, visit The Dream Shake.

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.