Spurs get ahead early; never look back in blow-out of Rockets

"We just wanted to come out and play the way we're supposed to play,” said Gary Neal on Thursday, “Spurs basketball."

Neal (12 points) was one of six Spurs players who scored in double-digits as the Spurs blew-out the Houston Rockets 114-92 in regulation.

"Great start to a back-to-back. Good win for us,” said Tim Duncan (12 points, 12 rebounds) after the game, “we focused early."

"I thought we had great pace offensively," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game as his players tallied 33 assists on the night, while shooting 55% through the entire game.

Here’s the rundown of the Spurs’ dominant home-court performance over the Rockets.

First Quarter: Spurs 29, Rockets 21

Shooting: Spurs 57%, Rockets 29%

Points in the paint: Spurs 12, Rockets 2

In the first, both teams went on runs as Tony Parker (17 points, 7 assists) guided the Spurs to an early 12-2 start, but James Harden (29 points) and the Rockets would battle back to cut the lead to one, but at the end of the quarter, the Spurs’ bench scored the last five points of the quarter. Parker ended the first with 10 points, while Harden had 13 points for Houston.

Second Quarter: Spurs 57, Rockets 45

Shooting: Spurs 52%, Rockets 35%

Points in the paint: Spurs 36, Rockets 18

The Spurs continued with dominance in the second quarter as they built a 17-point lead, but the Rockets behind Jeremy Lin would battle back to get within nine points. At the end of the quarter, Parker took over as he lead San Antonio in consecutive possessions scoring to go into the half with 17 points. Harden also added seven more points in the quarter.

Third Quarter: Spurs 87, Rockets 66

Shooting: 57%, Rockets 37%

Points in the paint: Spurs 46, Rockets 26

Aside from Harden scoring up to 29 points, the Spurs had their way with the Rockets in the third as they built a 25-point lead at one time. First their starting five gained some momentum, and then the bench of Manu Ginobili (12 points, 5 rebounds), Nando De Colo (7 points, 5 assists), Tiago Splitter (15 points, 6 rebounds), Patty Mills (12 points), and Boris Diaw got the AT&T in an uproar with some exciting offensive passing and scoring.

"They were great all across the board,” said Duncan of the bench after the game, “Nando is starting to understand what we want from him."

Fourth Quarter: Spurs 114, Rockets 92

Shooting: Spurs 55%, Rockets 39%

Points in the paint: Spurs 60, Rockets 38

This one play sums up the fourth quarter; Matt Bonner aggressively dunked the basketball in motion with two hands and hung onto the rim. It was another offensive quarter for the Spurs as their bench finished off the Rockets by scoring 27 points in the quarter with exquisite passing and scoring. At one point, the lead grew to 33 points.

After the game, Duncan had this to say of Bonner’s monstrous dunk. "Of the NBA, it's like top 10. Of the world, it's top 15."

In the fourth, even Splitter tried an attempt at passing the ball behind his back to Diaw, but he ended up turning the ball over. Splitter explained what had happened. "I thought Boris was behind me, but then no, he wasn't there."

With the win, the Spurs will board a plane to Charlotte where they’ll face the Bobcats on another back-to-back as they have improved to 16-4 twenty games into the season, and they’re still winning without their two small forwards Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson.

"We were able to rest a few guys which is good when you have a back-to-back coming up," added Coach Popovich after the game.

Post-game Notes

·         Though they shot 1-of-9 in the first half from three-point range, the Spurs knocked down 5-of-11 three’s in the second half to help boost their lead.

·         As pointed out by Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock, eight of the Spurs’ players tallied two or more assists in the game. This team and more specifically bench is becoming more in sync game-by-game.

·         A blow-out was needed on the first night of a back-to-back as no Spurs player played more than 25:41 minutes in the game.

·         Every Spurs player who saw minutes on the floor Friday scored in the game. The Spurs also out-rebounded the Rockets 50-37.

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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