Preseason Rundown: Witherspoon, Spurs take down Rockets

Just how much depth do the San Antonio Spurs have? Take Sunday into consideration.

On Sunday, the Spurs rested starting small forward Kawhi Leonard and started training camp hopeful Wesley Witherspoon. At the end of 48-minutes, Witherspoon led the team in scoring with 17 points as the Spurs defeated the Houston Rockets 116-107 in Houston to move to 3-1 on the preseason.

Here’s the rundown from Sunday’s game in Houston.

First quarter: Spurs 27, Rockets 16

Player of the quarter:  Ball movement – Both teams started off a bit sloppy shooting the ball, but toward the end of the first quarter, the Spurs started passing the ball continuously as they added up seven assists on their nine made baskets in the quarter.

Tony Parker and Tim Duncan scored all of their combined 11 points in the first, while Danny Green’s shooting was just getting started. Witherspoon too added five points in the opening quarter as he was presented with some of the open shots Leonard is usually given in the starting lineup.

Play of the quarter: Late in the quarter, Manu Ginobili (11 points) was barely blocked when trying to make a pass. He caught the loose ball and sunk a fade-away jumper with time expiring. It was one of those, “only Manu” moments.

Second quarter: Spurs 52, Rockets 44

Player of the quarter: Green – Green’s shooting stroke continued in the second quarter as he scored seven points by hitting a deep 3-pointer, making a layup when cutting to the basket, and hitting a jumper on the baseline out of a timeout. Green finished the game with 15 points, his strongest outing in this preseason.

Third quarter: Spurs 82, Rockets 71

Player of the quarter: Cory Joseph and DeJuan Blair – Blair started the second half for the Spurs after not playing in the first half and immediately poured in six points, while Joseph came off the bench to deliver seven points to end the night with 12 points. Blair hit one of his new improved 15-feet jumpers, while also being the recipient of open passes by getting out in transition ahead of the defense. Joseph scored multiple times by either driving to the basket or knocking down outside jumpers.

Play of the quarter: After the Rockets’ Omer Asik was using his size advantage over Blair for half of the third quarter; Eddy Curry was immediately put into the game and made Asik feel what Blair was feeling. On one specific play, Curry gained position of the low block, caught the ball, and performed a made-jump hook in which he made Asik fly several feet from the basket with his size advantage.

Fourth quarter: Spurs 116, Rockets 107

Player of the quarter: Witherspoon, Neal, and Blair – Witherspoon continued to score out in transition as he started the quarter with the first four points for the Spurs. When the Rockets inched a bit closer, Neal would create separation on the scoreboard with his ability to shoot from the outside with just a little bit of open space as he added 6-of his-10 points in the quarter. Blair finished the fourth by scoring 10 points in the quarter and finishing with 16 on the night in just 18 minutes of play.

Play of the quarter: On one possession in the fourth quarter, Nando De Colo fed a behind-the-back pass to Derrick Brown for an and-1 score. De Colo finished with seven points and five assists in just 17 minutes of action.

The final spot

Here’s a quick summary of how Eddy Curry, Josh Powell, Derrick Brown, and Wesley Witherspoon all did on Sunday, as only one of them will be awarded the final roster spot when training camp ends.

-Eddy Curry: Curry finished the game with 10 points (5-of-5 FG), three rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and three personal fouls in 18:49 minutes. He buried his defender and made a jump hook in the third quarter, over Asik who was dominating Blair. Curry made another jump hook late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, he performed a spin move and took his man to the basket where he finished on the drive. Also in the fourth, he completed a high block and dunked on the other from a no-look pass from De Colo.

-Josh Powell: Powell did not play in the game.

-Derrick Brown: Brown was put in midway through third quarter, but overall didn’t have an impressive game as he turned the ball over three times in the game and was never in position to secure a rebound.  He played 16 minutes in the game.

-Wesley Witherspoon: Witherspoon played the most minutes of any Spur (28), he got his real shot Sunday as Leonard and Stephen Jackson both never entered the game. Witherspoon was active on defense and continued to finish at the rim in the open court. 

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX and the 2013 NBA Finals.

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