The San Antonio Spurs returned to the court in Houston on Saturday as they fell to the Houston Rockets 101-87 in their first preseason game after a grueling NBA lockout.
Though the Spurs lost, the game was still worth watching for the mere fact of watching newcomers T.J. Ford take the floor alongside rookies Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph.
The Spurs were led by Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair’s 16 points while Houston was led by Luis Scola’s game high 20 points and five rebounds.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker did not play in the game so Ford was handed the starting job to run the team.
The Rockets came out firing with an early 11-2 lead in the first quarter as the Spurs struggled to hit even a layup at times. With 4:47 remaining in the first quarter, rookie Leonard took the floor alongside second year guard James Anderson. Joseph joined the young defensive core with 2:25 in the first quarter. The young players made an impact on the defensive end immediately as they slowed down Houston’s scoring attack. By the end of the first quarter, the Spurs only trailed the Rockets by four points, 24-20. Matt Bonner was the leading scorer with seven of his 12 points.
The shooting continued to suffer in the second quarter as the Spurs went 8-of-40 by halftime and held a 51-36 deficit to Houston. Blair was the focal point on offense with nine points at the half.
Ginobili was the player of the third quarter as he scored eight points in the quarter to put the Spurs back in the game after the team was down by 20 points. Leonard played most of the quarter but when Anderson was inserted with him, the young guns made themselves apparent. Leonard began with a steal and took the ball coast to coast while Anderson followed on the next possession with the same type of play. Joseph ended the quarter by hitting a 15-foot jumper as the Spurs only trailed the Rockets 71-65.
The Spurs would continue to play excellent defense early in the fourth quarter, as they were able to cut Houston’s lead down to three at one point. Tiago Splitter showed some of his growth by burying Hasheem Thabeet down low as he added two of his 13 points. Turnovers late would lead to a collapse in the Spurs’ comeback, as the Rockets were able to hold on for the victory.
The Spurs will return home to San Antonio and prepare for their first preseason game at the AT&T Center against Houston on Wednesday December 21.
Leonard finished 1-of-4, two points, six rebounds, one steal, and one block in 23 minutes. Joseph went 2-of-7 for four points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 19 minutes.
- The lockout looks like it affected the shooting of the players as San Antonio shot 35% (29-82) from the field and shot 14% (3-21) from three.
- Second year player Anderson finished 1-of-9 with four points and one steal.
- Ford looks like he’s going to be a solid backup point guard as he was able to run the offense steadily with only two turnovers (14 for the team). He scored eight points, had six assists, and two steals.