The San Antonio Spurs got preseason revenge against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. After losing to the Rockets on Monday, the Spurs won the rematch by a final score of 117-103.
San Antonio got off to a fast start on both ends of the court. In less than five minutes, they led 17-1. By the end of the first quarter, the Spurs had a 32-13 advantage.
The good guys did a bad job of holding onto their big lead, however. The Spurs struggled late in the first half and those struggles continued for much of the third quarter. This time, though, San Antonio was able to regain their footing in the fourth period to secure the preseason victory.
Spurs vs. Rockets Stats
Spurs vs. Rockets – Final Grades
It didn’t feel like Wembanyama played that well. He had trouble catching simple passes a few times. His gracefulness was missing in action for the most part. Despite the perceived struggles, Wembanyama still had a positive impact on the game. Totaling 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes is nothing to scoff at. I liked that he got more comfortable on offense as the game progressed instead of panicking when things weren’t going his way early. His defense also improved as the game went along. Oh, and he still provided jaw-dropping clips for the ol’ highlight reel.
Vassell scored the first nine points of the game on a trio of triples. Those shots set the stage for his 25 first half points. Not only was his outside shot falling, his movement without the ball was superb. It’s really looking like he’s ready to take another big leap on the offensive end.
Johnson was surprisingly quiet. Three shot attempts in 23 minutes is extremely unusual coming from him. Is he still hurting from his hamstring injury? Is he the odd man out offensively in this new starting lineup? Was he just taking things cool and calm in an exhibition affair? I don’t know the answer but he didn’t look good offensively. Johnson’s decision-making on that end was iffy, even though he had limited touches. The silver lining is that there were a few defensive possessions where he played really, really good defense.
It’s official that Sochan is now San Antonio’s starting point guard. I thought he looked improved in that role. He took care of the ball, made the right passes and did enough to remain a threat scoring-wise. His ball-handling remains iffy and he’s not really running the offense as a conventional point guard would. But, hey, it’s kinda working. Defensively, Sochan looks stout. He can oftentimes be found in the middle of the action — both on the perimeter and in the trenches.
The good: Collins remains a highly productive machine this preseason. Going for 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes is a job well done. His outside shot looks great and he’s bouncy in the paint. Passing-wise, he’s seeing the floor really well. The bad: Collins was too loose with the basketball and sometimes inexplicably lost control of the rock. The result was a six in the turnover column.
Coming off the bench, Jones again looked like a natural. When he comes off the bench, he’s free to assert himself right away. He did that again tonight — on both ends. I liked the look of his perimeter shot, his aggressiveness in the open court and the energy he exhibited on defense.
Branham didn’t do anything to move the needle a notable amount in either direction but he was solid versus Houston. Confidence was an issue at times last year when he was a rookie but he looks really confident so far this preseason. Tonight, there were a couple glimpses of Branham’s high ceiling on the offense end. His polish and touch on that end are standout traits.
McDermott struggled on Monday and again struggled tonight. He wasn’t moving well and looked slow when going head-to-head versus Houston’s athletes. These Spurs are deep enough that McDermott could drop out of the rotation if his play doesn’t improve. Then again, it’s preseason so it’d be unwise to make any conclusions about a veteran like McDermott.
Osman continued his strong preseason play. He’s playing hard on both ends and is surely turning a few heads among the coaches. Osman has a good feel for the game and enough size and athleticism to take advantage of it. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of role he has once the regular season begins.
With his improved athleticism and mobility on full display, Bassey made the most of his 12 minutes. Sure, he made a few mistakes tonight but Bassey just looks like a guy who has to be in the rotation. He can make things happen quickly and provides an instant jolt of electricity when he hits the court.
It was great to see Champagnie get back on track after a very shaky start to the preseason. His shot looked better and made sure to be more than just a designated three-point shooter. He defended, rebounded and passed the ball well. He also cut to the hoop with a purpose. Right now, it looks like he lost the battle to be in the rotation at the start of the season … but it’s a long, long season.
It’s getting difficult to overlook Barlow. For a player his size with his athleticism, the fact that he now seems to have a reliable jumper is a big deal. Barlow is still learning the sport of basketball but it might officially be time to be excited about his long-term potential.
Mamukelashvili hasn’t really been given a chance to play with the regulars during the preseason but he has made the most of his minutes. Against the Rockets, he was all over the court. His effort is contagious and his skill level remains intriguing.
Wesley’s play in the fourth quarter was one of the main reasons why the Spurs lost on Monday night. Give him credit because he was in a similar position this evening and turned in a much improved performance. His decision-making was solid, he created clean looks and he applied pressure on defense. Well done.
Cissoko continues to provide wow moments when it comes to passing the ball. The kid processes the game quickly, has great court vision and can make passes with both substance and style. Hopefully some other areas of his game can come along like his passing has.
Personally, I really like the starting lineup. I appreciated that Pop called plays for Wembanyama to help get him going when the big man somehow was being overlooked by teammates.