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Tari Eason and Jabari Smith lift Rockets to 97-84 win over Spurs

The rooks got it done in the second half.

2022 NBA Summer League - Houston Rockets v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sorry for the late recap, guys. The plan was to get you one last night, but as soon as the game was over, I took my five-year-old upstairs to read her a bedtime story, with the intent of writing the recap after she dozed off. Well, lucky me, I fell asleep as well — those of you with kids know how easy reading yourself to sleep can be — so now you’re getting a morning recap.

Anyway, how about those Houston Rockets? They downed the San Antonio Spurs 97-84 after being down big for most of the first half, and they received several encouraging performances.

First, lets talk about Tari Eason and Jabari Smith. Eason was once again everywhere, as he finished with 22 points on 9-16 shooting (2-3 from deep) to go along with 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 assists. His energy and effort are fun to watch.

Jabari Smith had his best Summer League game so far, as he finished with 19 points on 6-12 shooting (3-5 from deep), with 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and a block. He was great down the home stretch in the fourth, helping the Rockets seal the game.

But the most impressive part for both of these guys was their defense. Smith said before the game that he prides himself on defense, and that was clearly evident, as his length, positioning, and defensive court acumen are going to be a problem for anyone. Smith always seems to be in the right position defensively, calls out for others, getting them in the right position, and I hope Rockets fans are starting to see why he was my top choice in the NBA Draft for Houston. That defensive length and ability is exactly what the team needed.

While Smith is more clinical, Eason is more of a force of nature, disrupting things with his energy and effort, while his length is also a major problem for opponents. These two put the clamps on in the second half last night, helping to hold the Spurs to just 30 points after halftime.

Check out this compilation of their defensive work. Impressive to say the least:

One thing I do want to point out about Smith, at least offensively, is that you can tell he’s still working with his confidence. Something I noticed is that his first step is much quicker than originally advertised. I saw him beat guys off the dribble several times with a path to the bucket, only to see him pull up instead of taking it straight to the cup. That looked like a confidence issue to me, and once he figures out that he can get there and adds that drive game to an already sublime jumper, he’s going to be difficult to stop.

Daishen Nix also had a really good game, his best of the Summer League so far as well. He finished with 18 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and a steal, while shooting 7-15 from the field (3-5 from three). He was able to penetrate effectively, ran the floor well, and got his guys going. We saw glimpses last night of why Houston’s front office is so high on him.

Josh Christopher finished with 18 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks on 6-13 shooting (0-1 from three) to fill up the box score once again, though he sometimes appears out of control. He’s ready for the season, though.

We also saw some more good stuff from TyTy Washington, who finished with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals on 4-10 shooting (0-1 from deep). He’s a little more measured than Nix, but gets to the lane and already has a full repertoire from mid-range.

But it was Houston’s defense that led the way, as they racked up 14 total steals as a team and held San Antonio to 34.4 percent shooting on the night.

The Rockets are now off until Thursday, when they return for a 9:30pm against the Portland Trail Blazers.