The Houston Rockets displayed the same heart and effort that led them to a four-point victory on Thursday, but they could not replicate the same success. Saturday evening, the Rockets fell to the San Antonio Spurs 103-91 inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio. With the loss, the Rockets and Spurs split their two-game series, as Houston falls to 4-7 on the season.
The most difficult challenge the Rockets had to overcome took place two hours before the opening tip. Already short-handed with the loss of Eric Gordon, John Wall and Danuel House, the injury bug continued to take a toll on Houston. DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) and Sterling Brown (leg) sat out due to injuries, which gave the Rockets only eight active players for the game.
With Brown out, Mason Jones took the role as the Rockets’ starting point guard — the first of his career. He scored a dozen of his career-high 24 points (8-12 FG, 6-8 3PT) in the first half, which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close out the second quarter. The Rockets held a 53-50 lead at the half. Jones was one of three players who scored 20 or more points in the loss to the Spurs.
Christian Wood tied for a team-high 24 points (9-20 FG, 1-3 3PT), but his most significant contribution came on the glass. Wood pulled down a career-best 18 rebounds, with 12 coming on the defensive end. Ben McLemore provided Houston with another reliable scorer. He scored a season-high 21 points, connecting on four of his seven shots from the outside.
The Jones, McLemore and Wood trio were the only Rockets who scored in double figures. Jae’Sean Tate and P.J. Tucker both struggled shooting a combined 3-for-20 from the field (0-for-7 3PT), but their greatest effort came on defense. The duo combined for five blocks and 14 rebounds in the loss.
Despite the lack of bodies, it was tough for the Spurs to avoid their second straight loss to the short-handed Rockets. San Antonio held a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter before outscoring the Rockets 28-19 in the final period.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Spurs with a team-high 24 points and seven rebounds in the win. The Spurs received a huge boost from their second unit, as San Antonio outscored Houston 38-11 in bench points. Jakob Poelt led all reserves with 13 points (6-7 FG) and 11 rebounds. Patty Mills added in 11 points off the bench.
After the loss, Stephen Silas said he hopes to receive more healthy bodies prior to their MLK showdown against the Chicago Bulls on Monday — including newcomer Victor Oladipo.
“To have Vic, it’s exciting. He fits into a lot of things. He is a go-to guy. A downhill player. He’s also a quality defensive player. He’s a true two-way guy.” — Silas
In addition to the possibility of Oladipo making his debut against the Bulls, Silas says Gordon and Wall will remain as day-to-day. Gordon is a “little further ahead” than Wall. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. CT inside the United Center.