The San Antonio Spurs ended its road trip against the Houston Rockets, which didn’t go according to the plan.
On Friday night, the San Antonio Spurs arrived on national television to face the Houston Rockets. It was the final leg of a three-game road trip, which featured the Spurs defeating the Phoenix Suns on Saturday and losing to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
When anyone plays the Rockets, expect 3-pointers to be taken early, often and through all 48 minutes. To no surprise, this was the case on Friday night, as the home team dominated from start to finish.
It started from the beginning, when James Harden had 10 free-throw attempts in the first quarter. He finished with 16 for the game, but his aggressive play contributed to the tempo and opened the floor for his teammates.
This matchup had all the making of a blowout after the first quarter. The Spurs were down by 15 points, which remained steady for the rest of the game. Keeping it even isn’t a bad thing, except when the other team outscored and left you in an early deficit in the first quarter.
Did it feel even through the game, though? Not quite, as the Spurs turned the ball over nine times around by the second quarter’s midway point. This forced lineup changes that saw Davis Bertans receive extra playing time, who contributed down the stretch in a young and hungry Spurs squad in the fourth quarter.
A group that included Bertans, Brandon Paul, Joffrey Lauvergne, Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes cut the lead to 14 points at the 6:27. There was a glimmer of hope … until the Rockets put it away. It was due to Harden’s late-game play (that 3-pointer at the 4:31 mark in the fourth quarter) and Clint Capela‘s aggressiveness vs. a soft interior front.
We see you Bryn! pic.twitter.com/jII68zi9d9
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 16, 2017
Meanwhile, it’s not a Spurs game recap without a Kawhi Leonard reference. He played his second game since returning from a right quad injury, scoring 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting in 17 minutes. This was one fewer point and one extra minute from his return vs. the Dallas Mavericks. Since Leonard won’t play the second end of the back-to-back, it seems that head coach Gregg Popovich wants to limit his star early and as often as possible.
- For a game against one of the NBA’s best teams and a Western Conference competitor, this was as bad as the Spurs could have played.
- Harden shot just 33 percent from the field (2-for-11 from 3-point range) but still had 28 points.
- It’s somewhat difficult to evaluate this Spurs team against the Rockets, who flashed a conservative version of Leonard and benched the usual starters for most of the game.
- It was another game that didn’t solve the bench, either. Someone will fall out of the rotation. It’s just a matter of when Leonard starts playing full-time minutes and Kyle Anderson‘s eventual return.
The Spurs return to the court on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET. They will host the Mavericks.