The San Antonio Spurs came into Thursday night’s game without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Tiago Splitter, and Patty Mills, and they were crushed by the streaking Houston Rockets by a final score of 98-81.
Gregg Popovich opted to rest Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on a second of a back to back, leaving the team’s burden to Tony Parker. Unfortunately for Popovich, Parker struggled in this game, scoring only six points on 3-of-8 shooting.
The Spurs started the game shooting 0-for-9 as they scored their first basket with 6:11 remaining in the first quarter. Luckily, the Rockets were not scoring much either, so the Spurs were able to hang in and only trailed by three at the end of the first.
It was in the second quarter where the Rockets broke loose, led by Dwight Howard, who had a couple of graceful alley-oop finishes over the defense of the Spurs. Howard had a monster night. He finished the game with 32 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks on 12-of-18 shooting from the field. He asserted his will and dominated the paint, which is something that was touched on in the game preview.
San Antonio did not have enough size in the paint to contain Howard. Dwight Howard and the Rockets resumed their dominance in the second half as they promptly stretched their lead out to 30 points with less than four minutes to go in the third.
The Spurs cut into the lead a bit in the fourth during garbage time, but they had no chance to comeback and win. However, the Spurs bench was phenomenal, putting in 41 points.
Cory Joseph led the way for San Antonio with 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Danny Green and Aron Baynes were the only others to reach double digits in scoring for the Spurs with 10 and 12 points respectively.
The Rockets received 16 points from the veteran Jason Terry off the bench. All of Terry’s points came from beyond the arc as he shot 4-of-5 from that distance. James Harden dropped 20 points, six assists, six rebounds, and three blocks in this game, but had eight turnovers. Isaiah Canaan, who filled in for an injured Patrick Beverley, finished with 12 points.
The Spurs struggled with their three-point shot in this one, going just 2-for-20 from that distance. The Rockets, who are the number one three-point shooting team, hit 10 out of 27. Trevor Ariza had his worst game in a Rockets uniform, scoring just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting, but he held his own on the defensive end, keeping Kawhi Leonard in check. Leonard finished with seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The Rockets are now a league best 6-0, while the Spurs drop to 2-2. The Rockets look to keep their winning streak alive as they host the undefeated Golden State Warriors on Saturday, November 8. The Spurs will look to bounce back against the New Orleans Pelicans on the same night.
The Houston Rockets lost Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, and Chandler Parsons during the offseason, but they have found ways to win games, and they are mainly doing it with excellent spacing and three-point shooting. Trevor Ariza has been a fine fit for the team so far, and Harden and Howard have taken more responsibility and have delivered.