Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets – Game #65

With the worst record in the league still up for grabs, the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets played for the second consecutive game. For the second straight time, the Rockets prevailed with a victory. Playing in front of their home fans, Houston annihilated San Antonio by a final score of 142-110.

The Rockets led by 14 points after the first quarter and never trailed again. The Spurs played terrible defense, particularly in transition and when forced to make rotations in the halfcourt. San Antonio’s offense was also worse than usual, as the Spurs relied a lot on individual play instead of teamwork and passing.

Spurs at Rockets – Final Grades

spurs grades rockets

Keldon Johnson

Johnson was great in the first two minutes of the game. The Spurs got off to a 10-2 start and Johnson got the assist on each of San Antonio’s four made field goals. Regrettably, the rest of his evening went downhill. Johnson never got going offensively. In fact, he was the only starter not to reach double-figures. His assists dried up and his turnovers mounted. On the other end, Johnson’s defense was really poor.

Grade: D

Devin Vassell

Vassell was back in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, he struggled early. In the first half, Vassell was only 2-for-8 from the floor. He shot better in the second half but never got into an offensive groove. Overall, I liked his aggression on offense and he had a couple heady passes but he’s still quite rusty. Defensively, there were a few highlights but it was mostly a bad performance on that end from Vassell.

Grade: C-

Malaki Branham

Branham started the game off with an old-fashioned three-point play. He ended the night with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. The rookie also pulled down a career-high seven rebounds. Despite the efficient numbers, I was underwhelmed by Branham’s activity level. He could have forced the issue more on offense and played with more intensity on defense.

Grade: B-

Charles Bassey

Bassey was really impactful in the first half. Going into halftime, he had a team-high 12 points. The second half wasn’t nearly as kind to him — but he kept playing hard on both ends. I liked his passing, he battled on the boards and he went turnover-less in 25 minutes. On the other hand, his defense away from the basket was iffy, he looked stiffer than usual, and was getting up and down the court at a tortoise-like speed. Bassey did okay in his second start as a Spur but certainly could have done better.

Grade: B-

Keita Bates-DIop

Bates-Diop led the Spurs with 17 points in 23 minutes. His scoring was helpful. I loved that he shot open threes without hesitation and took the ball to the basket with authority. He got himself to the line for six shots, didn’t turn the ball over and had only one foul. Things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows for Bates-Diop, though. He was invisible on the glass, played poorly in halfcourt defensive sets and was even worse in transition.

Grade: B

Devonte’ Graham

Graham poured in 14 points in 24 minutes off the bench. As usual, he did most of his damage from beyond the three-point arc. His passing was above average, he took care of the ball and he pushed the pace. Defensively, it was a struggle. Graham is still building chemistry with his cohorts — and that is most obvious on the defensive end because he’s getting caught in too many mismatches. 

Grade: B-

Dominick Barlow

The good: I liked that Barlow was a lot more assertive offensively. He had some strong takes and wasn’t timid about calling his own number. Defensively, he’s a live body who already has pretty good instincts in terms of where to rotate. The bad: No defensive rebounds in 23 minutes isn’t going to cut it for a big. Barlow also struggled to hold his ground in the paint a handful of times. 

Grade: B-

Blake Wesley

Wesley is slowly but surely becoming better as a decision-maker. He’s still turnover prone and his drives to the basket are more style than substance — but his overall development is heading in the right direction. The rookie had three turnovers in 19 minutes but he hit half of his shots from the floor, dished out a couple of assists and played hard on defense. Even against a young, athletic Rockets team, Wesley’s speed and open court explosiveness stood out.

Grade: B

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Mamukelashvili had a few highlight possessions but Sunday night was mostly a struggle for him. Based on the eye-test, he doesn’t look like a very good athlete and he doesn’t play especially long — so that’s a tough combination to overcome. Defensively, there were major issues with his footspeed on the perimeter. He also looked slow and relatively uncoordinated when trying to defend in transition. Mamukelashvili ended up with five fouls in 17 minutes because he was constantly out of position. Offensively, he’s powerful on the move and his three-point shot is smooth for a 6-foot-10 player — but he needs to start flashing more technical skill to keep his current classification as an intriguing prospect.

Grade: D+

Julian Champagnie 

Champagnie looked decent in spots. The mechanics on his jumper are flawless and he was attentive on defense. Offensively, I would like to see him shoot more. If he’s going to make it in this league, it’s going to be as a high volume three-point shooter. Against the Rockets, he passed up too many open looks. Defensively, Champagnie isn’t blessed with above average physical gifts so he’s going to have to work hard to avoid being a liability on that end. On Sunday night, he was more bad than good on that end.

Grade: B

Gorgui Dieng

Dieng had a powerful dunk in garbage time. He also had a few smart plays on defense.

Grade: Inc.


This was another tank-tastic coaching effort by Pop. He spread the minutes far and wide and made sure to have awkward combinations on the court for most of the game. Honestly, I think it was the right move. Losing these last two games to the Rockets really helped in terms of giving the Spurs a chance of finishing with the worst record in the NBA.

Grade: A-