The San Antonio Spurs returned to the court in Houston on Saturday as they fell to the Houston Rockets 101-87 in their first preseason game after a grueling NBA lockout.
Though the Spurs lost, the game was still worth watching for the mere fact of watching newcomers T.J. Ford take the floor alongside rookies Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph.
The Spurs were led by Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair's 16 points while Houston was led by Luis Scola’s game high 20 points and five rebounds.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker did not play in the game so Ford was handed the starting job to run the team.
The Rockets came out firing with an early 11-2 lead in the first quarter as the Spurs struggled to hit even a layup at times. With 4:47 remaining in the first quarter, rookie Leonard took the floor alongside second year guard James Anderson. Joseph joined the young defensive core with 2:25 in the first quarter. The young players made an impact on the defensive end immediately as they slowed down Houston’s scoring attack. By the end of the first quarter, the Spurs only trailed the Rockets by four points, 24-20. Matt Bonner was the leading scorer with seven of his 12 points.
The shooting continued to suffer in the second quarter as the Spurs went 8-of-40 by halftime and held a 51-36 deficit to Houston. Blair was the focal point on offense with nine points at the half.
Ginobili was the player of the third quarter as he scored eight points in the quarter to put the Spurs back in the game after the team was down by 20 points. Leonard played most of the quarter but when Anderson was inserted with him, the young guns made themselves apparent. Leonard began with a steal and took the ball coast to coast while Anderson followed on the next possession with the same type of play. Joseph ended the quarter by hitting a 15-foot jumper as the Spurs only trailed the Rockets 71-65.
The Spurs would continue to play excellent defense early in the fourth quarter, as they were able to cut Houston’s lead down to three at one point. Tiago Splitter showed some of his growth by burying Hasheem Thabeet down low as he added two of his 13 points. Turnovers late would lead to a collapse in the Spurs’ comeback, as the Rockets were able to hold on for the victory.
The Spurs will return home to San Antonio and prepare for their first preseason game at the AT&T Center against Houston on Wednesday December 21.
Leonard finished 1-of-4, two points, six rebounds, one steal, and one block in 23 minutes. Joseph went 2-of-7 for four points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 19 minutes.
- The lockout looks like it affected the shooting of the players as San Antonio shot 35% (29-82) from the field and shot 14% (3-21) from three.
- Second year player Anderson finished 1-of-9 with four points and one steal.
- Ford looks like he’s going to be a solid backup point guard as he was able to run the offense steadily with only two turnovers (14 for the team). He scored eight points, had six assists, and two steals.
I did like seeing Tiago be a bit more aggressive in the 2nd half of the game. Need that for 4 quarters considering this crop of big men on the SAS roster might be what we go to war with throughout the season.
I like the way tiago played, but their interior defense was bad and that comes down to dejaun blair not being big enough and other bigs who shouldn't be able to score more than 10 points in a game dominating him, Tiago was the only big who was intimidating for us changing shots and moving his feet, but blair needs to play better to stay on the floor and tiago actually has 2 post moves, the jump hook and the up and under, so I would call that a post game. It's not Duncan or hakeem , but it's a post game.
i really think spurs should go for kris humphries..i dont see why not if he rebounds can shoot the ball and defend and block shots..i dont care if he made a fool out of himself lol
TD not playing was asn experiment. Splitter is far from expectations. The spurs need a big guy to man the interior. TP didm't play to see how tjford fares. He is good. The rookies have future. Blair can't play pf/c, to short. What about the d-league players? One of them should play pf/c and man the interior. Hey, the grizzlies are still alive.
Very impressive stuff from our rookies. Kawhi got his hands on EVERYTHING. His length is definitely something that stands out even in the NBA. I see why we picked up Corey now; he is aggressive on D and there's a certain steadiness and calm in his offensive game that was surprising to see from a rookie point guard, especially one who missed the entirety of training camp. I was really impressed with him.
...but Goodness, our interior D is atrocious... So much so that I think the only way to solve it is to have a personnel change. Our frontline aside from Kawhi just isn't athletic/long/big enough to defend against opposing bigs. Jordan Hill torched us in the paint and Scola was getting WIDE OPEN looks every time he popped out of a pick.
Our interior offense isn't much better either; DeJuan still can't shoot, Tiago doesn't have a post game, and Novak has no business asking for the ball with his back to the basket..
Our backcourt is certainly deep and talented and our wings show enough potential to compete with the best of them but our frontline is a serious problem and it needs to be addressed if we have any hopes of making any noise in the playoffs.
I disagree about what you said about Tiago's low post game. In the second half he showed some great post moves and scored 4 consecutive times I believe. Joseph was comfortable, but a little too comfortable as he took pretty much any shot he could get. Blair was butterfingers yesterday - there were three free throw rebounds that went right through his hands and so the Rockets got the rebound. All of thew new Spurs had terrible games yesterday offensively except Tiago was very impressive offensively. I agree that we need another big, maybe Frank Hassell who was in the game yesterday and did pretty well (though he's undersized) or Kosta Koufos if he is still not signed (I'm not sure). We were completely outrebounded and we most certainly need another big (preferably someone from the free agency and not someone from the D-League because we actually have too many young players and need some more veterans). Also, Ford was quite impressive on offense - he's as fast as Parker but he's a pass first guard which works better for our system. @09202150
@spurs123@09202150 Dude, Tiago has one post move: catch, wait, and drive. That's not a post game. He went on a little run in the third but we're talking about the Rockets here.. He angles himself well and has a decent pick and roll game but he is no intimidating interior presence that we can work our offense through. DeJuan can obviously rebound, but that doesn't address his inability to spread the floor and guard opposing bigs. I don't see why being comfortable is a bad thing; Joseph was not confused out there even though it was his first time playing with the team. He was surprisingly calm and played decent D.
@JohnCook@spurs123 I understand that it was "just" a preseason game but our weaknesses were glaring. They weren't things stemming from a lack of conditioning or chemistry. Like you said, Scola and Jordan did play well but they were merely just capitalizing on the lack of fundamental defense from our bigs. I agree with you that Tiago and TD can perhaps compliment each other considering TD can somewhat spread the floor with his jumper, but you have to admit the Tiago/Blair pair is a disaster. Their game is just too similar.. They both made an impact last night when they were each paired separately with either Matt or Novak.
@09202150@spurs123 It's just a preseason game. The only players who were playing well were Scola, Ginobili, Jordan, and Bonner. I think Tiago and Tim on the floor at the same time would be great for spacing considering how well Tiago Splitter plays the pick and roll and Tim Duncan's mid-range game. They still need to address defensive backup in the front court.
I was wondering if we could get some more information about Frank Hassell. He came in the first half and he was pretty good (his free throws are nice, he's a big guy that we badly need, and he had a great defensive presence in the game.
@Joey they didn't have it locally here in S.A. only if you had NBA TV or were watching it in Houston since for some reason, they air Rockets preseason games. Spurs local broadcasts don't really air the preseason games, however, according to spurs.com, they are supposed to air the home game against the Rockets on Fox Sports Southwest.
@JohnAbney really? well that's strange because they had the Rockets announcers on when they showed the game on NBA TV.