Keldon Johnson and the young core shine in Spurs lackluster loss to the Rockets

The Spurs finally returned to the AT&T Center on Thursday after a successful 4-1 road trip saw them knock off both Los Angeles title contenders. Unfortunately, the familiar confines of home didn’t seem to bring the good guys much comfort as they dropped a close contest to the shorthanded Rockets.

Keldon Johnson paced both teams in scoring, notching a career-high 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field. Lonnie Walker IV also provided a punch with 16 points on a quartet of trifectas, and Dejounte Murray and Devin Vassell combined for eight steals as they powered a defense that forced Houston into 18 turnovers.

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Although San Antonio came up short down the stretch of their only nationally televised game of the season, their young core played an exciting brand of fast-paced hoops. And while a win would’ve been preferable, hopefully, their performance makes network executives think twice before passing on them for primetime events.

Dejounte Murray often gets criticized for what he can’t do on a basketball court, though this beautifully placed bounce pass in transition to a sprinting Patty Mills resulted in one of his most impressive assists to date:

First-round rookie Devin Vassell put his defensive chops on display with a perfectly timed deflection and showed off some surprising bounce after Patty Mills got in on another flawlessly executed fast-break:

Keldon Johnson continued his relentless assault on the rim in his mission to tear down every backboard across the country with an emphatic one-handed jam right down the middle of the lane:

Dejounte kept diming in the open-court with this nifty little scoop pass that third-year two-guard Lonnie Walker IV secured and slammed home while soaring through the air with his gravity-defying hops:

DeMar DeRozan and everyone’s favorite human wrecking ball connected on a picturesque alley-oop that left the shot-clock swaying precariously in the wake of yet another booming jam from Keldon:

And a usually concise Gregg Popovich gave Grant Hill one of the best court-side interviews of his career as the two had skipped the basketball talk and went straight into a friendly exchange about wine.

For those of you who want to witness every last Sports Center worthy play from Thursday night, here are the full game highlights:

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