Round two between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets is right around the corner as the interstate rivals are neck and neck for a race to last place in the Western Conference standings. Despite starting another losing streak over the weekend, the youngsters have the perfect chance to get back on track against a fellow bottom dweller tonight.
These longtime Southwest Division competitors may not have many wins to their names, but they have more than enough talent and athleticism on their rosters to make this matchup worth watching. Jalen Green can glide through the air for emphatic slams, Devin Vassell can drain a jumper with a hand in his face, and you don’t want to miss them going toe-to-toe.
San Antonio Spurs (9-20) vs. Houston Rockets (9-20)
December 19, 2022 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs: Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way), Blake Wesley (Out — On Assignment), Josh Richardson (Out — Personal), Keldon Johnson (Questionable — Back), Romeo Langford (Questionable — Illness)
Rockets: Josh Christopher (Out — On Assignment), Darius Days (Out — Two-Way), Trevor Hudgins (Out — Two-Way), Garrison Mathews (Out — Illness), Jae’Sean Tate (Out — Ankle)
What To Watch For
- Though it hasn’t equated to much winning, Houston is home to one of the most talented young backcourts in the NBA. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are dynamic ballhandlers, incredible straight-line and vertical athletes, smooth self-creators, and burgeoning playmakers. The pair has combined for 40.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists as the go-to options for head coach Stephen Silas this season. Their scoring efficiency has been erratic on a nearly nightly basis, but they can single-handedly propel a team past the finish line. The Rockets always have a shot to emerge victorious when their exhilarating combo guards get white-hot from the field, and that was no more apparent than when they took down the Suns and Bucks in back-to-back matchups a week ago. San Antonio pestered Green and Porter in the previous meeting with their divisional adversaries, holding them to 26 points on 10-of-33 shooting. Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford made the tandem a non-factor in that contest, but the former is unavailable, and the latter might not suit up this go-round. Those potential absences could complicate things defensively, especially if it means Devin Vassell and Tre Jones have to spend more time covering Green and Porter without reliable backups to take some pressure off their shoulders.
- Keldon Johnson has been an iron man for the Spurs, suiting up for 171 out of a possible 183 regular-season games over the last three years. Though the enthusiastic small forward rarely takes a night off, even someone with an indomitable spirit like him could use a little load management during an unmistakable rebuilding season. A lower back contusion has Keldon listed as questionable for this contest, and if San Antonio opts to sit him out, the fans could get a glimpse at what Devin Vassell can do as the leading man. The third-year guard recorded a season-high 29 points against the Kings last time Johnson was unavailable, asserting himself early and often in an entertaining back-and-forth affair for a team bereft of reliable scorers. An appointment with the Rockets and their bottom-five defense should have the 22-year-old swingman salivating. He has gone through a rough patch over his last six games, shooting 40.2% from the field and 33.3% from the three-point line, but Houston provides the perfect opponent to rediscover his rhythm. Vassell will probably have plenty of space to work with, so get your popcorn ready for smooth pick-and-roll scoring, impeccable off-ball movement, and hopefully a sprinkle of isolation experimentation.
For the Rockets fans’ perspective, please visit The Dream Shake.
The Game Thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.