Sunday night, the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets met for the final time in the regular season. In a late season battle with the Rockets battling for playoff position, it was crucial for Houston to get a win.
In a game that came down to a couple last second plays, that is what they got. With 4.5 seconds left, James Harden hit a pull up midrange jumper to put the Rockets up one. On the next play, the Rockets defended one of the Spurs infamous out-of-bounds plays perfectly, forcing a tough turnaround jumper from Tim Duncan, and sealed the victory.
For Houston, James Harden led the team with 29 points on 6-16 shooting and 15-17 from the line. He also racked up 9 rebounds and 6 assists, as he was he teams leading scorer and distributor on the night. The Rockets also had a strong performance from Chandler Parsons, who scored 20 points on 8-17 shooting, providing some big buckets late in the game.
For San Antonio, Tony Parker was the high man, scoring 23 points on 13 shots, as he also did well from the charity stripe scoring 9 of his points there. Parker also had 7 assists and 4 rebounds on the night. Tim Duncan also scored decently for the Spurs, dropping 17 points (On 18 shots…) on the night, and grabbing 17 rebounds.
This game was an offensive battle. Although the combined FG% wasn’t very high, there was a lacking presence on defense. Both teams scored a lot of three pointers; the Spurs specifically looked nice from deep, shooting 10-22 for .455 from three on the night.
It was close all the way down to the wire, and the Rockets simply executed better in crunch time. James Harden, one of the best scorers in the league, did his job and got a bucket late for the win.
The Spurs have a tough week coming up, with games against the Nuggets, Clippers, and Heat consecutively. The next game, against the Nuggets, is on Wednesday, March 27, at 8:30 PM.
- I didn’t put it in the recap portion of this piece, but Patrick Beverley played great for Houston in this game. He had 11 points on 4-6 shooting, and 2-3 from 3, providing a nice spark plug off the bench in 24 minutes. He’s had an interesting career, which started for him as a prospect out of Chicago, who was featured in the documentary Hoop Reality, a sequel to Hoop Dreams. He ended up at Arkansas, and impressed people in the short time he was there. He left the University of Arkansas after his sophomore year amid an academic scandal, and went to Europe for a couple of years. After flirting with the NBA and performing well in the Euroleague, Beverley eventually caught on with the Rockets this year as a 24 year old rookie, and has played well recently. In the past three games, he has averaged 9.7 points on .579 from the field, and getting at least one three a game. In Sunday’s game, he torched Nando De Colo (who is a subpar defender, but still) for a few nice buckets, and looked like a useful player. And, I understand that the sample size is extremely small, but everywhere he’s gone he’s been able to score, and that’s an asset that’s always in demand in the NBA. If he can find a way to keep this up, and continue to get minutes, he can become an interesting guy to keep an eye on.
- The last play that the Spurs ran looked pretty familiar to me (Duncan caught the ball above the elbow, and looked to hit the inbounder, Ginobili, on a streak to the basket, but it resulted in a missed turnaround jumper from Duncan), and a tweet from @Matthew_Tynan confirmed as much (and later wrote about it in his recap):
That’s the same play they ran twice at the end of the game in Golden State last month. No worky this time. Manu had a chance at the putback.
— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) March 25, 2013
That game, as you might remember, was “the Jarrett Jack game” when he dropped 30 points on San Antonio. At the end of regulation, Popovich ran this play, and it worked like a charm as Manu Ginobili got an easy layup to send the game into overtime. In the overtime session, with San Antonio down three, (in what was probably an “Eff you” move from Pop) they ran the exact same play, which resulted in a turnover and the Spurs eventually lost that game. So, seeing that same play AGAIN tonight was a bit comical to me, because I envision Pop saying “Screw what everyone else thinks I’m only going to run one sideline out of bounds play and I’ll be damned if anyone says otherwise” as he sips from his amazing wine collection and cackles evily sitting next to a fireplace in his library petting a cat. (Although I’m sure there was some actual reasoning, I prefer my version better.)
- I know this game was a loss but I feel like I have to say that KAWHI LEONARD IS STILL AWESOME!!! Sorry if you don’t like caps, but it’s true. And I feel it needs to be shouted from the mountaintops, or at least the Hill Country. Over the past two months his confidence and ability has skyrocketed. He’s averaged about 15 points per game on 11.6 shots per game (AS WELL AS BEING A SNIPER FROM THE CORNERS). He’s become a capable scorer, rebounder, and defensive playmaker, which are all great tools for him to build on for the future. I think he’s now become the third best player on the team, although I plan on discussing that more at a later date. But yeah, he’s awesome. Get used to it.