Most of the San Antonio Spurs preseason has been filled with half glimpses at what the team may look like in the regular season. Starters sat out each of the first three games, making fans speculate who exactly would be in the first five. With everyone healthy we got our first glimpse of the Spurs “tall ball” starting five that features Jeremy Sochan at the point. The new lineup bested the shorthanded Rockets on the way to a 117-103 victory.
Devin Vassell led the way for San Antonio with an efficient scoring night. He had 25 points on 8-14 shooting from the field, hitting 5 of his 10 threes. Victor Wembanyama didn’t wow in the scoring department like he did in his first two games, but still had an impact, putting up 15 points, 6 rebounds, a steal and 2 blocks, while going +16 in his 21 minutes of play.
- The “tall ball” starting five looked good in the first half. They got off to a blazing start outscoring the Rockets 32-13 in the first quarter. They moved the ball well offensively and had enough shooting to space the floor. Zach Collins operated as a facilitator from the high post on a lot of possessions, posting 5 assists. Sochan and Keldon Johnson both distributed the ball well, posting 4 and 2 assists respectively. Defensively their length bothered the Rockets, forcing 17 turnovers. The ability to switch most screens helped them tremendously.
- Despite the big first quarter, the Spurs allowed the shorthanded Rockets to outscore them in the second and third. Turnovers and offensive rebounds plagued the Spurs who appeared to take their foot off the gas a bit after a commanding first. The Rockets grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, and forced the Silver and Black to turn the ball over 22 times. That’s twice now that those two stats have hurt the Spurs. It’s something to monitor going into the regular season.
- Tre Jones played starter minutes despite not being a member of the starting five. Most of San Antonio’s first five played around 20 to 25 minutes. Jones played 21 minutes, and put up 9 points, 3 assists and had 1 steal. You can tell there is a difference in the ability to navigate a pressuring defense when he is on the floor. His ability to get downhill and hit floaters or find the open man makes him a weapon in the second unit. Defensively he was a pest, swiping away the ball from drivers.
- Wembanyama was fouled a lot by the Rockets. Whether it was in the open court or shooting the ball. That forced Houston to go into the bonus early, and cause opposing center, Alperen Sengun, to have 5 fouls in the first half. Wembanyama struggled shooting, going 3-10 from the field, but he shot 7 of 8 from the free throw line. As teams try to learn how to defend him, we could see a lot of fouls against the Spurs.