After a scary situation during the Phoenix Suns game in which Lonnie Walker IV asked out of the game while clutching his right knee (the same knee he has had surgery on twice), there appears to be good news on that front. Yesterday, Walker was listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets. However, he has now been upgraded to “available” — so expect him to suit up and play for the Spurs.
This is especially great news for San Antonio because they will have their hands full in Houston. Considering how well Walker played last time against the Rockets, the Spurs needed him available to have any chance of winning this game.
In the double-overtime game won by the Spurs 135-133 that saw the Rockets protest due to a Harden dunk that wasn’t counted, Walker scored a career-high 28 points, including 19 points in the fourth quarter. In addition to his explosive offensive play, he also defended James Harden well.
That wasn’t Walker’s only good game as of late. He has scored in double figures five times in the last seven games. Considering he has found himself in and out of the rotation on a quarter-by-quarter basis, that’s really impressive. Against the Suns, before he got hurt, Walker had 16 points in 21 minutes on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor.
San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup
Last game, the Spurs went back to their starting lineup that they began the season with: Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, Trey Lyles and LaMarcus Aldridge. While it’s been difficult to predict what head coach Gregg Popovich will do, the best guess is that he will once against start those five players. However, it’s also possible that Rudy Gay will start in place of Lyles in order to match up with the smaller Rockets.
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
The Rockets have used a variety of starting lineups this season but it appears as if their preferred fivesome is Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Danuel House, PJ Tucker and Clint Capela. Obviously, everything revolves around Harden, whose averages are out of this world: 39.3 points, 7.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Spurs at Rockets – Key Matchup
The last time these two teams met, Harden had 50 points. However, it wasn’t all bad for the Spurs, as Harden was only 11-for-37 from the floor and 4-for-20 on three-pointers. Where Harden hurt San Antonio was at the free throw line, where he went 24-for-24.
The key matchup for tonight’s game is between the Spurs and the referees. The Spurs need to do all they can to play smart defense and keep the refs from blowing their whistles. If San Antonio can keep Harden’s free throw numbers in check while forcing him to shoot poorly from the field, they should be in good shape.