Ten days ago, the San Antonio Spurs were blown off their home floor by Play-In rivals the Pelicans and were about to head out on a four game road trip which would ultimately decide the rest of their season. They were either going to be lose a couple of the games and start thinking about the offseason, or they would get a couple of wins and make a last ditch effort at the Play-In. Well, the Spurs won all four and are now well positioned to clinch one of the two last spots in the Play-in tournament.
They were however given a scare in the last of the four wins as the young Houston Rockets fought all the way until the final buzzer to make sure the Silver & Black had to work for their victory.
There were clear opposite approaches from both teams in this game with the home team content to chuck up shots from the outside, while the visitors were happy to take advantage of the Rockets weak interior defense and score on the inside. Houston’s shots started to fall in the first but the Spurs weren’t having any trouble scoring inside the key on the other end. The Rockets young players were showing their willingness to fight back from runs as every time San Antonio extended their lead to double-digits the home side would hit a couple of three balls to pull the game close.
In the second Zach Collins was showing some fancy footwork when he would be fed the ball when making a darting run down the middle of the paint in transition. A problem all season for the Silver & Black have been their mental lapses when they find themselves up big, and it showed again in this contest. They would give the ball up too easily and fail to get back on defense causing Coach Pop to call a number of timeouts. Eventually they went back to what worked earlier in the game and that was to pound the rock down low for easy points, growing their lead to 12 at half-time.
San Antonio came out for the second half sluggish and quickly allowed Houston to cut the deficit in half. They were slowing down on offense by settling for too many jumpers while the Rockets were playing with pace which was getting the crowd into the game. The Spurs bench unit was brought on and they conveyed more focus and intensity to the contest and this saw the Spurs lead go back to ten. A 3pt barrage from both teams ended the quarter with the same margin at the half being the one heading into the fourth.
The Rockets were still firing from downtown and were hitting them at a decent clip with Houston threatening to go berserk and take the lead. Keldon Johnson did a good job of being aggressive and getting downhill which created some free throws to slow the home team’s momentum. Though, a 6-0 run from Houston made it a five-point game with four minutes to play. The final stretch of the contest was ugly with the Rockets making some contested threes but the Spurs, especially Dejounte Murray, made just enough of their free throws to win the game; 123-120.
- 3pt vs PITP. In today’s NBA if you make more three pointers than the opposition you usually give yourself a good chance of winning, but when you give up 72 points in the paint, you certainly hurt your chances. That’s exactly what the Rockets did, they hit an incredible 20 three pointers but their awful defense allowed the Spurs 72 points around the rim. The Grizzlies average the most PITP per game at 58, so Houston giving up 14 more than that shows why making a bunch of threes weren’t going to win them this game.
- Injury Report. Devin Vassell returned for the Spurs after a one game absence but Lonnie Walker IV was ruled out earlier in the day which meant he missed his fourth straight. There is still no update on Romeo Langford and he has not been seen on the road trip as it looks like he is rehabbing his hamstring injury in San Antonio.
- Play-In Update. San Antonio are 0.5 games out of the 10th seed with 7 games to play.
Play of the Game
A gorgeous basket from the Spurs point-guard to end the half.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
3rd place (1 point): Josh Richardson | 33mins, 15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 triples
Keldon Johnson could have a shout for third place, but his inefficiency on the night means that Josh Richardson takes third. Josh was great once again, helping out on both ends and filling the box score. He hit some important shots throughout the contest and then when he was asked to make his first two free throws on the night in a clutch situation he nailed them both.
2nd place (2 points): Jakob Poeltl | 27mins, 17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, 8/10 fgs
These are the type of games Jakob feasts in. A poor and undersized interior meant Poeltl got whatever he wanted. If it wasn’t for foul trouble Jakob would have gone for a lot more. He played tough defense at the rim blocking numerous shots and altering a whole bunch more.
1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray | 38mins, 33 points, 11 assists, 7 rbs, 2 stls, 2 blks
A career high 33 points for Dejounte Murray helped lead his team to their fourth straight victory and bring them to within 0.5 games of 10th. He was efficient with his shooting (11/18), went to the line 12 times and even made two threes. DJ played great defense on Kevin Porter Jr and was the leader the Spurs needed down the stretch hitting a few foul shots to help pull out the win.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 118pts
2nd - Jakob Poeltl - 65pts
3rd - Keldon Johnson - 56pts
4th - Derrick White - 51pts
5th - Devin Vassell- 47pts
6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 37pts
7th - Doug McDermott - 16pts
8th - Bryn Forbes - 12pts
9th - Thaddeus Young - 11pts
10th - Jock Landale - 10pts
11th - Tre Jones 7pts
12th - Keita Bates-Diop & Josh Richardson - 6pts
13th - Josh Primo - 3pts
14th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts
15th - Devontae Cacok, Zach Collins & Joe Wieskamp - 1pt
Next Game: Vs Memphis on Wednesday
The Spurs head home with momentum and four straight wins in hand but they will have their work cut out for them if they are to extend their win streak as the Memphis Grizzlies come to visit. Memphis may be without Ja Morant at the moment but they are still thrashing teams and are 18-2 without their MVP candidate.