The Spurs’ losing streak continues. Some atrocious outside shooting and a few too many turnovers doomed San Antonio to defeat in Houston. The Rockets didn’t impress but they didn’t have to to secure a 93-82 win against an opponent that fought hard but came up short.
It was a sloppy start to the game, as both young squads struggled with turnovers and shot selection. Both starting lineups couldn’t put points on the board and bounced around between some pretty offensive possessions at the individual level and some terrible ones at the team level. The awful execution continued when the second units checked in, which resulted in a low-scoring opening frame that was hard to watch but close.
The Rockets found more success on offense as the minutes passed, propelled by their inside game. They were the more physical team and by not wasting as many possessions on bad threes and turnovers, they took control. The Spurs woke up in time to make a run after being down by double digits, as Keldon Johnson found a way to get downhill and the defense improved despite both Wembanyama and Zach Collins being in foul trouble. At the break, the Rockets led by four.
There was no third-quarter collapse on this one, in part because the Spurs continued to play with effort even when facing adversity and in part because the Rockets weren’t sharp. San Antonio bricked a lot of threes and made some questionable decisions that got them in a double-digit hole again, but Houston didn’t take advantage. Bad shot selection from the home team and some good Wemby and Tre Jones minutes allowed the Spurs to stay within striking distance going into the final period.
In the end, the terrible outside shooting (5-for-41) destroyed San Antonio’s chances of mounting a comeback. The Spurs had their opportunities but the ball just refused to fall and the defense couldn’t come up with enough stops at key moments. It was a good effort by the Silver and Black but it wasn’t enough to avoid their 17th loss in a row.
- Pop used the same starting lineup that made its debut against the Bulls. The lack of a go-to ball handler resulted in a few turnovers, mainly by Victor Wembanyama. Outside of that, the unit worked well enough. The starters took too many threes but played decent defense. Not the type of performance that inspires confidence, but not terrible either.
- Looking at the score after the first quarter felt weird. The 40-point frames that are now common took some getting used to, so watching two teams combine for just 40 in 12 minutes was almost unnerving. There was some truly terrible offense being played early on.
- Jeff Green has one of the most interesting careers in recent history. He started as a potential centerpiece for the Thunder. Once it became clear he was not going to reach those levels, he was shipped out to Boston, went through a huge health scare and disappointed due to some terrible fundamentals. He bounced around the league and at one point almost became a joke. The fact that he’s now a valuable veteran and NBA champion is a little surprising, but he seems like a good guy who deserves some good late-career years.
- At some point, Victor Wembanyama will log a quadruple double. Now that he’s playing at center, the blocks will not be that hard to come by. The assists might be an issue, but eventually, the stars will align. He didn’t play particularly well in Houston and finished with 15-18-3-5. It feels inevitable.
- Why did Tre Jones play only 17 minutes, especially after a great game against the Bulls? Who knows. Jones’ stat line is underwhelming, but he played energetic defense and set the table well on offense on Monday. Malaki Branham, who gets ball-handling duties with the starters, had a good game, but he can coexist with Jones. Pop surely has good reasons for the way he handles the rotation, but sometimes they are hard to read from the outside.
For the Rockets fan’s perspective, please visit The Dream Shake.
The Spurs will host LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CST. NBA TV and Bally Sports will televise the game.