Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets – Game #64
The San Antonio Spurs saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday night when they lost to the team with the worst record in the league. The Houston Rockets, who had lost 11 straight games heading into this contest, won by a final count of 122-110.
The Spurs held a 32-29 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, San Antonio’s defense fell apart and the Rockets scored 41 points in the period.
The Spurs got within three points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter following a Charles Bassey jumper. Unfortunately, the Rockets answered with a 20-6 run to essentially end the game.
All in all, it’s difficult to be too upset about this loss. For Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson purposes, this was the preferred outcome. Plus, the Spurs got an extended look at two new players — and that’s always fun.
Spurs vs. Rockets – Final Grades
Sochan had a choppy game. It was difficult for him to string positive possessions together. The rookie ended up missing all five of his three-point attempts but was 5-for-8 from two-point range and 4-for-4 at the line. Sochan seemed to be pressing too much on offense and his defense was nothing to write home about. I also thought he could have been better on the boards.
Jones looked a lot better in his second game back after missing time with a foot injury. His movement was a lot less labored and he got his scoring back on track. He hit his lone three-point attempt and was shifty in the paint. Jones handed out four assists in 25 minutes and finished without a turnover for the second consecutive outing.
The good: Collins was strong on the board, made timely rotations on defense and was active in passing lanes. Offensively, he’s shooting threes with confidence, passing the rock well and exhibiting physicality in the lane. It’s also great that he limited his mistakes, as evidenced by his one foul and one turnover in 30 minutes. The bad: Collins’ individual defense could have been a lot better. He also missed a couple makeable shots and it would have been helpful if he ran harder in transition.
Graham poured in 28 points in 29 minutes. The secrets to his success were his 7-for-12 shooting from downtown and his 7-for-7 showing at the charity stripe. Graham’s three-point shooting was by far the best thing the Spurs had going on this night. And it wasn’t an accident that he got to the line seven times. His craftiness in terms of drawing fouls has been much better than advertised. When Graham wasn’t scoring, he was authoring heady passes — especially in transition. I also thought his defense was fine for the most part.
The good: Bates-Diop tied his career-high with six assists. His passing has been much improved this season, particularly recently. Additionally, Bates-Diop has gotten better and better defensively as this season has progressed. Tonight, he was one of the team’s most reliable defenders. The bad: Bates-Diop was only 3-of-9 from the field and didn’t do much work on the glass. If the Spurs wanted to get a win, they needed a much more efficient and impactful game out of him.
Welp, you can’t fault his effort. Wesley was 0-for-6 from the field with two turnovers in 23 minutes. I thought his decision-making on offense was decent — he just wasn’t hitting shots and was too nonchalant on a couple passes. Defensively, I was pretty impressed. He applied strong ball pressure and never backed down on that end. That said, he missed a handful of rotations that led to layups and dunks by the Rockets.
Bassey doesn’t look 100% physically but he had a productive night at the offense. San Antonio’s backup center had 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in only 19 minutes. He took great advantage of his open looks, he rebounded well, he passed it smartly and he was really active on defense. Bassey gave some of it away by turning it over four times and having other basketballs bounce off his fingertips.
Hours after the Spurs claimed him off waivers from the Milwaukee Bucks, Mamukelashvili found himself in a fiesta jersey playing for his new team. The native of the country of Georgia flashed some interesting attributes. His footwork on his three-pointers was extremely nimble. Mamukelashvili also showed off imaginative passing skills and moved from spot to spot with confidence. The Spurs were using him exclusively at power forward so we’ll see if he has the footspeed to make it at that position. Hopefully we get to see more of him going forward.
Barlow did really good on the boards and was hustling on defense. He made mistakes but his liveliness was impactful on a variety of possessions. That said, Barlow needs to push the envelope more. He has to show some semblance of offensive game in order to make it in the league. Tonight, I’m not even sure he looked at the rim.
Langford was back on the court after missing nearly six weeks with an adductor injury. He played some solid defense at times and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty on that end. Offensively, there wasn’t much good to report. He hit only one of his five field goal attempts and wasn’t doing any playmaking of note.
Champagnie accidentally banked in his first three-point attempt and swished his second three-point attempt. Unfortunately, none of the rest of his attempts from deep were particularly close. That said, I’m glad he took open shots and he moved to open space naturally. Defensively, he seemed to be communicating well and did what he could to contribute. However, a combination of not being very athletic and not knowing San Antonio’s schemes made him a bit of a liability out there.
We know Pop doesn’t believe in tanking but this definitely looked like a tank job. Going with an 11-man rotation, including two players who never played on the team before? Not allowing anyone to play more than 30 minutes? Honestly, though, I think the not-so-stealth tank was the right move. The closer to the bottom the Spurs finish this season, the better. Thus, this was a step in the right direction.