After a devastating 27-point loss in game one of round two, the San Antonio Spurs came back to beat their in-state rival Houston Rockets by 25 to tie the series at one game each.
In game one, the Rockets handed the Spurs their worst playoff loss in history with a painful 126-99 blowout. Even though every NBA fan knew how uncharacteristic the large-deficit loss was for the Spurs, many wondered how the huge loss would affect the second seeded team. Despite the game one loss, the Spurs responded well in game two.
Games one and two undoubtedly illustrated the intensity between two teams that haven’t met in the playoffs since 1995. The second round matchup began with the Spurs shooting their worst in the playoffs this post-season at 36.9% on 31-for-84 shooting and 9-of-29 from 3-point range.
To make matters worse, the Rockets knocked down 22 3-pointers which helped them lead by as many as 39 at one point. The Spurs didn’t play up to the expectation of their league best defense and with their offensive struggles, particularly from LaMarcus Aldridge, they were defeated early in the game.
In a much-anticipated game two, the Spurs came out looking much more like themselves. Pau Gasol started at center for the first time since January and provided the Spurs with some fresh rebounding, which led to second chance points. Danny Green provided an early spark to get things going.
While the entire Spurs team came out with maximum effort, Tony Parker, the 15-year veteran, played particularly well scoring 18 points and collecting 4 assists, the second most points for the silver and black behind Kawhi Leonard, who had 34. After shooting 61.5%, Parker left the game early in the 4th due to an injury to his left leg. Official word is that he will have an MRI Thursday. The Spurs shot 54.5% from the field and made 27 assists in game two.
In addition to their offensive improvements, the Spurs played up to their usual defensive expectations allowing James Harden to score only 3 points in the first quarter and merely 13 points and 10 assists by the end of the game. Overall, the Rockets shot 44.6% in game two.
Looking ahead, the Spurs will need similar intensity from LaMarcus Aldridge in order to beat the Rockets again. It’ll be tough adjusting to playing without Parker, who has been Kawhi’s sidekick this postseason.
The Spurs face the Rockets for game three in Houston Friday night at 8:30 CST on ESPN.