In a thrilling back-and-forth series against an in-state rival they hadn’t faced in over two decades, the San Antonio Spurs blew out the Rockets in Houston, 114-75.
A few hours before game 6, the Spurs announced that their go-to player, Kawhi Leonard, would be out with an ankle injury. Many assumed that Leonard’s absence would spell ruin for the Spurs who shocked the league with the outstanding win.
Prior to the game six triumph, the Spurs played a hard-fought game 5 in San Antonio to take control of the series. In the 110-107 win in which Leonard rolled his ankle on James Harden’s foot, the Spurs shot 40.8% from the field and went scoreless for the majority of the 4th quarter.
Led by Leonard’s 22 points, and Patty Mills’ 20, the Spurs held on to go into overtime. Leonard did not play in the extra period, and the Spurs relied on 7 late points from Danny Green to push ahead of the Rockets.
At the end of overtime, the Spurs were up 110-97, and the Rockets got control of a jump ball with just 8 seconds left. The call was for a Harden three, but little did Houston know that 39-year-old Manu Ginobili had at least one huge defensive play left in him. Ginobili swatted the ball from behind Harden as the MVP candidate flailed his arms in surprise. The buzzer rang and the Spurs found themselves up 3-2.
The Spurs’ chances looked slim going up against Harden and the Rockets without Leonard, but Head Coach Gregg Popovich knows his team well. After a confidence boost in the game 5 overtime without Kawhi, the rest of the Spurs’ squad went into game 6 looking poised as ever behind player of the game, LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge shot 16-of-26 from the field for a season high 34 points and 12 rebounds. Not only did Aldridge step up, he was one of 6 Spurs players in double figures alongside Jonathon Simmons (18), Patty Mills (14), Dejounte Murray (11), Pau Gasol (10), and Danny Green (10).
“He’s been like that through these first two rounds,” said San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich of LaMarcus Aldridge’s amazing game 6 domination. “He’s really turned it on and demanded the ball.”
LaMarcus and the Spurs controlled the lead from the beginning and shot 53.1% from the field while holding the Rockets to 28.6%.
Now, the Spurs look ahead to their first-ever playoff matchup against the Steve Kerr coached Golden State Warriors. The Spurs ended the regular season 6 games behind the acclaimed Warriors, but San Antonio won the regular-season series against Golden State, 2-1.
The Spurs will face the Warriors in game one of the Western Conference Finals on May 14th at 2:30pm.