San Antonio vs. Houston, Final Score: Murray’s career night not enough in 124-128 loss to Rockets

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While it’s fun to watch high-scoring, up-and-down games like this one was between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs, the fun stops when the Spurs end up on the losing end of the scoreboard, as the Rockets spoil the Spurs first game back home, 128-124.

The Spurs weren’t the only ones enjoying a return: Both Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell rejoined the team after going through health and safety protocols. Keldon went 7-13 from the floor and scored 18 points, while Vassell struggled shooting the ball, going 3-10. Bryn Forbes was a much needed spark plug in the first half, making all six of his made threes in the first two quarters, but he ran out of gas after that. Dejounte Murray did Dejounte Murray things, but his 32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, and 3 steals just wasn’t quite enough.

The Rockets started the game like their namesake, as they blasted off from the opening tip. They scored 39 in the first quarter, making 6 of their 10 three-point attempts. Eric Gordon paced them with 31 points, while Christian Wood added 23. The 54.9% the Rockets shot from the field was the third highest the Spurs have allowed this season, behind games we probably all remember being difficult to watch: Charlotte’s 59.3% and Indiana’s 57.1%.

Observations

  • Before the game, Coach Gregg Popovich was being interviewed and was asked about Josh Primo. He responded back somewhat sternly, “Joshua,” so now I know to write Joshua from here on out.
  • There could easily be an all-hair team made up of rookies. Joshua Primo and Jalen Green have some great locks. Combine them with Josh Giddey and you have three of the five roster spots locked down.
  • Pace, pace, pace. The Rockets and Spurs are ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in pace and it showed early, as they combined for 75 points in the first quarter. Once that pace slowed down, however, you saw the Spurs were able to get stops and be more in control of how the game went. Then, toward the end of the game, things sped up again and the Rockets were able to go back up 12 with less than four minutes to play. The combined score of the first and fourth quarters was 76-70, Rockets.
  • It sure was nice having Keldon and Vassell back in the lineup. They didn’t play great, although Keldon had a nice couple of moments and played much better than Vassell, and you could tell there was a little rust. The Spurs should’ve still been able to pull out a victory against the worst team in the West, but I’m hoping this will be a loss in the short term, and over the rest of the homestand, they’re able to help right the ship for the team.
  • The nightly scoring drought hurt the Spurs once again. Dejounte put the Spurs up 9, 81-72, at 6:49 in the third quarter. Things started to seem like it was time for the team to run away and hide from the Rockets. Over the next six minutes, the Spurs scored 5 points, allowing the Rockets and mainly Eric Gordon to regain the lead.
  • In a game filled with young talent, it was Eric Gordon that led the way for the Rockets. He started the game 9-9 from the field and 6-6 from three. His presence provided a steadying force for a team that was trying to get up and down the court every time they got control of the ball. He kept the Rockets in the game in the third and gave them the lead heading into the fourth. Then, he helped ice the game with some free throws (even though he missed the last two that gave the Spurs a sliver of hope).
  • Kevin Porter Jr. has had an interesting couple of weeks to say the least, but when the Rockets needed something to happen, he came up big. He hit all three of his made threes in the last 4:17 of the game, his last being the backbreaker, as on a broken possession, he caught a pass off his shoestrings and beat the shot clock with 58.4 seconds left.
  • When it came down to it, this game was about who had shot makers. When the defenses actually looked like they had an interest in not giving up open looks, who had the players that could hit a baseline fadeaway like Christian Wood did when the Spurs cut the lead to 106-102, or hit pull-up threes in their defenders face like the aforementioned Porter Jr. did. Dejounte did his darnedest to be that shot maker, scoring 15 points in the last 3:20 of the game, but he wasn’t enough. Lonnie, Devin, Primo, and Jock combined to go 8-31 from the field and 2-18 from three. Even Keldon, who ended the game with 18 points on 7-13 shooting, only made three baskets in the second half.
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