The San Antonio Spurs decisively ended their two-game losing streak as they routed the Houston Rockets on Monday night in a matchup between the last-place teams in the Western Conference. While a single game is all that separates them in the standings, the divisional foes looked lightyears apart on the court.
Over-dribbling, finger-pointing, and head-scratching shot selection from Clutch City played in jarring juxtaposition to a Gregg Popovich team that unselfishly passed the ball around the horn. That all-around team effort gave the Silver and Black an edge, but a game-high 26 points from Devin Vassell vaulted them to victory.
Devin Vassell began the game on a heater, strolling into a wide-open catch-and-shoot transition three that kissed the back of the rim on its way through the basket.
Although Jakob Poeltl is still finding his rhythm after missing two weeks with a bone bruise, he caught Alperen Sengun flatfooted and attacked the basket off the bounce.
The Spurs poked holes in Houston’s swiss cheese defense all night long, and Vassell drove and kicked the ball back out to Kieta Bates-Diop for an above-the-break triple.
Tre Jones hasn’t been the most willing long-distance shooter this season, but even he got in on San Antonio’s three-point party with this contested jumper over Sengun.
The Silver and Black dominated on the break inside the Toyota Center, pushing the pace and moving the ball around until Malaki Branham broke free for a reverse layup.
Jeremy Sochan showed off his scoring repertoire in the second quarter, bamboozling K.J. Martin with a textbook up and under for an uncontested finger roll.
Stanley Johnson has been a pleasant surprise since signing with the Spurs, coming up with hustle plays like this chase-down block off the backboard to erase two points.
Malaki Branham stole the ball from Jabari Smith Jr. with a beautiful one-handed dig before patiently probing the defense and dishing it out for a Doug McDermott trifecta.
the steal!!! the threeee!!! pic.twitter.com/1GRCz2MlKt— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 20, 2022
Johnson made his presence felt in his first extended minutes, nailing a buzzer-beating three that sent San Antonio into halftime with the momentum swinging in their favor.
Tre took the basketball coast-to-coast off an inbounds pass and spun it off the glass with an inside-hand finish after Houston failed to pick him up as he sprinted past the timeline.
Despite entering the evening shooting 20.8% from beyond the arc, Romeo Langford contributed to the long-distance barrage, confidently stepping into a straightaway three.
Doug McDermott also had a hot hand on the perimeter on Monday night, curling around a dribble handoff and knocking down a three-ball with K.J. Martin draped all over him.
Vassell was fantastic from end to end, and the third-year guard made something out of nothing with a sidestep three to beat the shot clock after a last-second play broke down.
Sochan was in the right place at the right time, trailing the breakaway enough to get a clean look at a massive put-back slam when Houston rejected Tre at the rim.
And as always, here are the full game highlights.