There are losses in basketball, and then there are beatdowns like the one that the San Antonio Spurs received from the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in H-Town. With a lot of talent on the injury report, the Spurs (16-49) should still have looked more competitive against the Rockets (15-49). It was even worse than the 142-110 box score leads on, and unnecessarily so.
Seven Houston players scored double-digits, led by Jalen Green’s game-high 31 points. A pair of Rockets also had double-doubles in the affair with Kevin Porter Jr. recording 13 assists and Alperen Sengun pulling down 14 rebounds, both game-highs as well. Returning to the Toyota Center after collecting a win in San Antonio on Saturday night, Houston certainly felt right at home. They shot 54 percent from beyond the arc, and 61 percent from the floor. The Spurs were the complete opposite, as their defensive shortcomings were compounded by offensive struggles. Keita Bates-Diop led the team with 17 points.
Facing One of the Worst Teams in the NBA, The San Antonio Spurs Looked BAD.
There are excuses available for the Spurs should they try to explain the loss, but they hardly account for just how bad Sunday night was. Bates-Diop, Charles Bassey, and Malaki Branham were in the starting lineup for the injured trio of Jeremy Sochan, Zach Collins, and Tre Jones. While the replacements played relatively well, the impact was really felt during the rotations. Still, the Rockets really had their way regardless of who was on the court for San Antonio.
While the perimeter efficiency for the Rockets was very high, they still only out-shot the Spurs from deep by six points. Where Houston really took off was inside the paint, and subsequently at the free-throw line as well. The Rockets outscored San Antonio by 18 points in the paint and another 12 points at the charity stripe. Combine those figures together, and there sits all but two points of the difference in the box score. One would hope that Sochan and/or Collins would’ve made a large impact in that phase.
A glaring note on the box score was Keldon Johnson’s performance as he had an all-around rough night. Connecting on just 30 percent of his shots for a total of eight points, tying his second-lowest mark on the season, though lowest when on the floor for 20 minutes or more. Johnson also accounted for five of the team’s 15 turnovers, though he did have five assists, matching Devin Vassell for the team-high. That performance certainly hurt the team more than it helped on Sunday night.
As the team returns from the quick business trip in Houston, the Spurs settle in for a six-game homestand starting Friday. After the much-needed time to hit the practice gym in San Antonio and get familiar with the number of new faces, they’ll play host to the Denver Nuggets. Whether or not Mike Malone elects to rest the reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic remains to be seen, though it could be expected. As of Sunday night, the Nuggets (45-19) have a decent lead over the Memphis Grizzlies in the standings as they sit atop the Western Conference. Even still, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are more than enough to give the young Spurs a good test.
With San Antonio closer to securing one of the worst three records in the NBA, and thus the best odds for the top overall pick, the Spurs could get a real boost by stealing on from Denver. The Nuggets have struggled on the road, barely sitting above .500 at 16-15. It could also be the first time that San Antonio fans get a real glimpse at the future potential of this roster as Sochan and Jones, as well as the others, will have time to hopefully heal up by then.
Check out the full box score at NBA.com.