The San Antonio Spurs finished the 2020-21 preseason with a record of 0-3 after a 128-106 loss against the Houston Rockets. Truthfully, the game wasn’t even as close as that lopsided score indicates. The Rockets got up early and strolled to a victory without breaking a sweat.
There were not many positives for Aldridge on this night. On defense, he was reaching too much and was highly ineffective outside of the paint. On offense, his three-point shot was wonky, which caused him to start hesitating. When Aldridge isn’t confident in his jumper, the spacing goes from bad to horrific.
To DeRozan’s credit, he was the only player on the Spurs who wasn’t sleepwalking in the opening stages of the game. He didn’t exactly keep San Antonio in it but he kept the Spurs from being completely blown out early on. In the second half, DeRozan struggled on offense. On defense, he was a negative throughout.
Gay didn’t look as nimble as he looked in the first two preseason games. He had trouble staying in front of anyone on defense or giving adequate assistance on the boards. Offensively, Gay rarely helped out within the sets. He had to break plays in order to produce.
It’s difficult to gauge Murray. On one hand, his activity level was commendable with all the sluggishness around him. He was strong on the boards, tried to make plays and remained in control, relatively speaking. He was also one of the better players on the defensive end. On the other hand, outside of a few stretches in the second half, he really struggled to string multiple positive possessions together. His decision-making was iffy, especially when faced with complex situations.
Lonnie Walker IV
Ouch. I’m not sure how much worse Walker could have played. On defense, he was horrendous in transition and his help defense was pitiful. He was so slow to react on D that it was stunning. Offensively, he was really soft. When driving the ball, he passed whenever any semblance of a roadblock appeared. His panic with the ball in his hands was palpable.
Vassell was obviously the silver lining for what was otherwise a dismal performance by San Antonio. His shot looks smooth, his playmaking is better than advertised and his offensive repertoire is already impressively vast. Vassell has a natural feel for that game and knows where to be on both ends. His help defense was again really good. Outside of a few questionable shots and being a little too aggressive when on an island defensively, Vassell was really good.
Mills didn’t hesitate to let it fly — but he wasn’t exactly helping matters tonight. Defensively, he was getting overpowered right and left. Offensively, his shot-selection was a bit too liberal, which disrupted whatever rhythm the team tried to muster.
Lyles completed a highly disappointing trio of preseason games with another dud. His pass-shoot decisions on offense were poor; he’s obviously pressing on that end. On defense, he wasn’t putting up much of a fight. Lyles could usually be found in the dust as a Rockets player was on his way to score.
There’s not much nice to say about Poeltl. Houston got away with playing smaller players against him and Poeltl was rarely even in position to do anything helpful. He was getting pushed around, wasn’t moving well on the perimeter defensively and was continuously flustered for most of his ten minutes of playing time.
In the fourth quarter, Eubanks provided a much-needed amount of physicality. He played hard and used his bulk well. He had a few miscues but his effort stood out as a positive considering what was surrounding him.
Jones played the last four minutes of the game. He has no confidence in his outside jumper right now, which will need to change if he’s going to make it.
Preseason games don’t matter but Pop failed to find any combination that looked halfway capable against the Rockets. I don’t think starting Gay with Aldridge and DeRozan is the answer. That threesome is too old, too slow and too creaky to get the job done in 2021. Add a bench unit that showed no cohesiveness and Pop can’t be happy with how things played out in preseason.