San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs vs. Rockets recap, reactions: Welcome to the 10th seed

By Rob Wolkenbrod
HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 12: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots a three point basket over Kyle Anderson #1 of the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center on March 12, 2018 in Houston, 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 Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 12: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots a three point basket over Kyle Anderson #1 of the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center on March 12, 2018 in Houston, 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 Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs needed to win Monday’s game vs. the Houston Rockets, but came up well short of the West’s No. 1 team.

Monday’s game vs. the Houston Rockets was the epitome of a must-win scenario for the San Antonio Spurs. A loss would put them at No. 10, two spots outside the Western Conference’s playoff picture. The pressure was on, to win this game, so did they walk out victoriously and avoid the outside?

Well, in a game without Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobili, the Silver and Black did not exactly start red-hot. They went 2-for-14 from the field, and head coach Gregg Popovich used 11 players in the game’s first five minutes. That’s … not good. A bench flood led to a remarkable comeback, however, which put the Spurs within four to close the first quarter. Tony Parker‘s eight quick points propelled this.

We closed the 1st quarter going 7-for-7 from the field:

Parker: 4-for-4Davis: 3-for-3#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/Ui3fVPAxNs

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 13, 2018

A quiet second quarter kept San Antonio in the game, with James Harden‘s stat line’s continuous rise. Blame that on multiple trips to the free throw line, but the second unit sat back and played fine.

The third quarter delivered a different game. The Rockets torched the Spurs for 34 points, including another round of trips to the free throw line for Harden, who had 16 of these points. . A balanced effort from Chris Paul, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza assisted this.

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Even without three players, it was a poor defensive effort in the third quarter. A foul frenzy on Harden highlighted this, which almost made it a no-contest before the final quarter of the game. No Spur countered this attack, either, without a dominant scoring presence since Aldridge and Leonard were out. This issue started when Leonard went down and Aldridge took over, with Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Patty Mills unable to step up as the No. 2 scorer.

For a while, a committee behind Aldridge worked, but for most of the 2018 portion of the season, it failed. It proved to not work in earlier matchups vs. Houston, the Golden State Warriors and other top Western Conference teams. Sure, a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers slipped in, but rarely anything against the team’s potential playoff foes in the West.

As for the fourth quarter, Popovich emptied his bench, with Derrick White and two-way player Matt Costello in. It was mostly highlight-less, which quietly brought this game to its end. White flashed promise, though, before the score went final: 109-93, Rockets.

Derrick White with 11 points and is 3-for-3 from long range, was called up from @austin_spurs earlier today. pic.twitter.com/R2oYXG7T4i

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 13, 2018

Next: Top 25 players in SAS history

The Spurs return to the court Tuesday vs. the Orlando Magic. Another loss further pushes them out of the Western Conference’s playoff picture, and makes Leonard’s return crucial. Is it time to panic?

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