San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs vs. Rockets recap, reactions: It’s another James Harden show

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO,TX - FEBRUARY 01: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets goes down as Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs tries to tie him up at AT&T Center on January 28, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX - FEBRUARY 01: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets goes down as Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs tries to tie him up at AT&T Center on January 28, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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Despite a late-game comeback, the San Antonio Spurs were outplayed by the Houston Rockets, including another strong game from James Harden.

No matter when the San Antonio Spurs face the Houston Rockets in the 2017-18 season, there will be problems; the Spurs don’t have the firepower to counter the Rockets’ scoring, including the explosive work of James Harden from the field. That was the case on Thursday night, again.

The Spurs could not contain Harden from the start, letting him hit 6-for-9 from the field. Add in 9 first-half assists, and they just had no answer to him on the defensive end.

The obvious player that’s missing in this equation? Kawhi Leonard. Without him, there’s no ideal player to match Harden on the defensive end. There’s no ideal player to match Harden on the offensive end. Not even the team’s best healthy player, LaMarcus Aldridge, who keeps the Spurs in an inside-out offense, can counter it. This put the Silver and Black in an offensive funk for most of the first half, aside from the occasional Tony Parker jump shot and move around the rim from Aldridge or Pau Gasol.

The game was consistently out of reach, as well. The Spurs clawed for points, but the Rockets kept the lead between 10-20 points for most of the second quarter and into the third.

However, the fourth quarter marked a turnaround, as San Antonio worked it to a 6-point deficit on a 24-11 run. It was mostly behind a poor shooting run from the Rockets, who awoke when Chris Paul hit three consecutive jump shots. This seemed inevitable, given how consistent this team has performed from the field.

Darrun Hilliard!!

82-76 Houston with 9:57 to play! pic.twitter.com/F6s2QwkcE7

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 2, 2018

Once again, though, the Spurs pushed to single digits with minutes to go — until Harden hit a dagger 3-pointer. This ended a streak of 11 missed shots from behind the arc. That was followed by a 4-point play that sealed the deal at 102-91, Rockets.

Here’s how things looked for the Spurs on the stat sheet:

#GoSpursGo stat sheet from tonight's game vs. #Rockets pic.twitter.com/lp5Is1PeXs

— Rob Wolkenbrod (@RealRobWolkey) February 2, 2018

That’s followed by the Rockets’ stat sheet:

And now the Rockets pic.twitter.com/2w92PF1SqJ

— Rob Wolkenbrod (@RealRobWolkey) February 2, 2018

The percentages mostly match up, except for the 3-pointers, which the Rockets made eight more of. This opened the scoring differential early and allowed them to keep this game at a distance.

Danny Green’s 22 points led the Spurs, compared to Harden’s 28 points, 11 assists and 2 rebounds. Green’s 18 shot attempts were the second most in this game.

Next: Top 25 players in SAS history

San Antonio will return to the court on Saturday, Feb. 3 vs. the Utah Jazz.

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