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Rockets drop final preseason game, finish 3-5 in fake games

Even with a brilliant performance from James Harden, the Rockets could not compete with the Spurs while weighing foul trouble in the front court.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets walked away from the AT&T Center in San Antonio still searching for an answer to the Spurs' offensive juggernaut. Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge particularly shined, combining for 38 points on an incredible 12-15 shooting performance in the 111-86 Spurs victory.

Houston also left the game with a 3-5 preseason record, which is slightly discouraging, but most likely meaningless.

It did not feel like a preseason game, at least for the first three quarters. Both teams put their best players on the floor for the majority of the first half and the rotations looked authentic. Although the defensive intensity was in midseason form, which is to say there was a lack of it, both offenses looked exceptionally sharp.

Because Rockets treating the game like a regular contest, we learned a lot about the rotation. Apparently Marcus Thornton is ahead of Sam Dekker and K.J. McDaniels on the depth chart, despite him trailing both of them in our power rankings.

Defensively, Houston was a mixed bag tonight. With Capela and Jones on the court, the rim protection was impressive. However, throughout the game the Rockets had difficulty locating shooters on the perimeter. The overall disappointing performance defensively resulted in the Rockets surrendering 85 points in the first three quarters.

Danny Green, in particular, was consistently wide open beyond the arc. The Rockets were late to close out on him several times and he made them pay. Green hit his first 6 bombs and finished the game with 19 points in 18 minutes.

The Rockets countered Green's performance with excellent early play from James Harden and Corey Brewer. Houston was trailing by just 3 at halftime.

Unfortunately, the Rockets continued the trend of slumping in the third quarter. They were outscored 27-12 in the period. The pattern is concerning considering it was one of the glaring weaknesses last year. Hopefully McHale finds the antidote sooner rather than later.

Montrezl Harrell and Clint Capela both struggled with foul trouble for the duration of the second half. Hopefully Capela especially can limit the tacky fouls during the season. Capela will be expected to play meaningful minutes throughout the season as Dwight's backup. He is invaluable to the team, but obviously ineffective if he's in foul trouble.

With all that said, forget about the preseason. The games are fake. The real deal starts in just five days. The Rockets' regular season tips off on Wednesday when the Denver Nuggets come to town.

Quick Hits

  • For the Rockets, the starting lineup of Ty Lawson, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, and Clint Capela will be symmetrical on opening night in five days.

  • Harden would have recorded a triple double if he played the fourth quarter. He ended the game with 17 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds in 29 minutes.
  • Ty Lawson exited the game after the first half with back tightness. The injury is not a concern and he remained in the locker room as a precautionary measure.
  • Houston's first overall draft pick Sam Dekker did not enter the game until they cleared the bench in the fourth quarter.
  • Spurs offense was a well-oiled machine to begin the game, scoring on each of their first seven possessions before turning it over.
  • Corey Brewer was locked in off the bench, scoring in all types of ways and disrupting the Spurs defensively. He recorded 14 points.
  • Patrick Beverley actively looked for his shot, scoring 12 points on 10 attempts.
  • Montrezl Harrell continued his solid play with a unique combination of aggression and control on both ends. If that combination makes no sense, look no further than this vine for explanation.