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Rockets come up short against Spurs despite 40 points from James Harden

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The Houston Rockets fall short in their return to the Toyota Center against the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets had a rough preseason outing Wednesday night, as they fell to the San Antonio Spurs 128-114 inside the Toyota Center in Houston. With one game remaining before the start of the season next Thursday, the Rockets are now 3-2 in preseason action following the loss.

After six days off since their last game, the Rockets came out the gates with little to no energy and never got into a rhythm. With the Spurs coming out running at a faster pace, the Rockets trailed by 14 points in the first quarter and San Antonio never took their foot off the gas.

While pushing the pace, the Spurs attacked the Rockets’ inability to stop their penetration to the basket — as San Antonio shot 9-for-12 from inside the perimeter during the first 12 minutes of the game. Houston’s early struggles did not stop on the defensive end of the court, with the Rockets shooting 5-for-11 to start the game, 3-for-12 from behind the arc.

With Eric Gordon coming off the bench to provide some much-needed offense, the Rockets would pick up their offensive intensity as they scored 29 second-quarter points, but San Antonio held a 65-51 lead at the halftime break.

A portion of the Rockets’ first-half conflicts came due to the subpar performance by Russell Westbrook. In his Toyota Center debut, Westbrook seldom saw the court after picking up three personal fouls in the first six minutes of the game. He recorded seven points in the first half and was scoreless on all three of his first-half three-point attempts.

Although the Rockets did not play well defensively as a whole, Ryan Anderson may have been the biggest liability. While at center, the Spurs attacked the Rockets from the inside, as Anderson gave up eight points in the paint in four minutes of play.

By recording 22 of his 40 points in the second half, James Harden tried to lead the Rockets to a comeback victory, but Houston still could not find a defensive answer to stop San Antonio from scoring—as the Spurs outscored the Rockets 32-28 in the third quarter.

The Spurs would outscore the Rockets 58-36 in points in the paint, which resulted in San Antonio ending the game shooting 57.1% from the field.

Danuel House started at small forward, and Gordon seemed to be the only player who came ready to play alongside Harden, as the former Sixth-Man of the Year recorded 14 points in 23 minutes. Westbrook ended the night with 14 points and four assists but caused eight of the Rockets 18 total turnovers in the game.

The Spurs recorded their first victory of the preseason, with LaMarcus Aldridge recording 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field and six rebounds — while rising star Dejounte Murray scored 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting with four assists in the win.

The Rockets will conclude their 2019 preseason schedule against the Miami Heat on Friday, inside the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M.