San Antonio Spurs 108, Houston Rockets 95

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AT&T CENTER — Houston Rockets guard Kevin Martin is considered by some to be one of the most efficient scorers in the league. He started out Saturday night’s game against the Spurs proving that theory correct, scoring 10 points in the first quarter on 4-6 shooting.

Martin was 2-2 from the 3-point line and scored on a pair of layups as the Rockets led 26-25 after one quarter.

By the time the Spurs had finished off the Rockets in a 108-95 win, Martin still had 10 points.

The Spurs prevented Martin from getting to the basket and instead let him shoot 0-5 from the 3-point line the rest of the night.

“I think sometimes you can’t settle for just taking long shots,” Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman said after the game. “They put a little false pressure on us and we gave into it.”

Luis Scola was the Rockets’ best player on the night, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. But the defense the Spurs played on Kevin Martin left Coach Pop pleased.

“I thought we did a good job on Martin,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “They depend on him to get a lot of scoring done, so that helped us out.

“We played pretty solid defense throughout the game, especially in the second half.”

When Coach Pop is happy about the defense, and the Spurs have the scoring distribution that they showed against Houston (six players were in double figures, all five starters had at least 10 points early in the third quarter), there’s a very good chance that the Spurs will win.

Really, if Coach Pop is happy about the defense, then the Spurs probably won.

Offensively, I struggle to call it balance, because six players scored 97 of the Spurs’ 108 points. But it’s a great sign for San Antonio’s offense that so many players were able to score the ball well.

Even better were the variety of ways those players were able to score the ball. Manu Ginobili was 4-6 from the 3-point line, DeJuan Blair had four or five dunks finishing plays, Tony Parker was effective getting to the basket for layups and George Hill hit 7-8 free throws.

Richard Jefferson also had a solid all-around offensive night. He attacked the basket well and hit 2-3 from beyond the 3-point arc for his 18 points.

“He was aggressive all night, he played well,” Coach Pop said. “He caught with the idea of trying to be a scorer whether it was shooting the ball or driving it.”

The Spurs now embark on the fabled Rodeo Road Trip, with 40 wins already under their belt. Normally a time when the team comes together heading into the season’s stretch-run, San Antonio can afford to drop a couple of games.

But if they don’t lose many games? The Spurs can probably pencil themselves in for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

  • Ian

    I believe Oberto officially retired due to his lingering heart condition. Why people coming to this blog even bother to mention his name for the potential signing, I have no clue.

  • Brian in Seattle

    @Ian
    This is from ESPN
    “According to the San Antonio Express-News, Oberto watched the Spurs play the Rockets on Saturday and was at the team’s practice facility on Sunday. He plans to undergo some medical tests and work on his conditioning while he makes a decision about his future.

    “‘I’ll have some tests, and we’ll see,’ Oberto said.”

  • Tim in Surrey

    @Bankshot21 – Actually, we could really use Nazr Muhammed…

    BTW, to everybody who assumes we’re going to beat all these teams with losing records – Don’t be silly. A lot of the teams you’re looking at are MUCH better at home than on the road. Washington is a good example. Their record is only 13-34 but remember that they are 0-24 on the road, which means they have a winning record at home. Nick Young seems to be twice the player at home, for some reason. And when they’re on the road, they often play well in the first half but then flame out in the second. But at home they’re young, very talented, and very dangerous. As The Beat Counselor pointed out, Sacramento has suddenly become much more dangerous as well. I don’t know whether it will last, but DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans have both been playing very well in recent days.

    To reiterate what I said above about the schedule, yes it’s against some weaker teams but it’s brutal nonetheless. I’m particularly worried about the 5-in-7 stretch:

    Tue, Feb 8 @Detroit
    Wed, Feb 9 @Toronto
    Fri, Feb 11 @Philadelphia
    Sat, Feb 12 @Washington
    Mon, Feb 14 @New Jersey

    The last three are all healthy and playing better right now and the Spurs will already be tired from the b2b in Detroit and Toronto.

    Another way of putting it is that for this road trip I’m less concerned about the quality of the opponents and more concerned about the schedule. The Spurs are good enough to beat any team in the league in any stadium. But they’re no spring chickens anymore and (as I had to learn on the playgrounds myself), once you get past 30 or so, it’s the recovery time that gets you (along with the nagging injuries). As a result, I actually think it might be easier to win in LA and Chicago than in Sacramento, Washington and New Jersey.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Oh, and one more thing before I get back to work: The days of the Spurs being overlooked are really over. Not only was there a big segment about them on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, I also noticed today that two of the sites dedicated to other contenders (Boston and LA) have writers claiming, essentially, “I don’t care what the record says, our team will beat the Spurs in the playoffs.” Here are the links:

    http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/losangeles/chat/_/id/36834

    http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nba/columns/story?columnist=forsberg_chris&id=6078273

    The rest of the league has taken notice and I think we’re going to get every team’s A-game from here on out. In other words, for everyone who wanted the Spurs to get more recognition, “Be careful what you wish for, for you just might get it…”

  • Nima K.

    I don’t think The Spurs have proven they can consistently beat The Celts. Yet.

    A word of advice: let’s not get too comfy with 40-7 and whether ESPN praises us.

    I’d rather we be the underdogs, unsuspectingly climbing to title #5 under the radar.

    I’d rather we not be another Mavericks team: strong in the season, fizzling out in the playoffs.

  • Bankshot21

    This team is comprised of a core of staff and players who have seen the mountain top already. That championship pedigree alone should leave us out of comparisons with 67 win Dallas or 66 win Cleveland. I can see us winning all 9 games. And that’s my take. I’m not going to low ball the team I’m willing to bet on every time they play because some of you feel its realistic. Reality tells me that we have already had THREE 8+ game winning streaks this year so we are definitely capable of stringing many wins along. The back to back has been our foe once again but these back to backs are against lower competion than the previous back to backs and I will not just chalk an L up just because of the schedule.

    As far as us proving that we can consistently beat the Celtics I ask you this 180 question: Have the Celtics proven they can consistently beat our beloved Spurs? I think not. They play in the 7 and 8 seed -.500 Eastern Conference yet we have a better record. Night in and Night out we’re most likely playing stiffer competition.

    I will be at the New Jersey game on February 14th. Brook vs. Timmy should be pretty good. Duncan should have damn near 20 rebounds that night. Brook sucks on the glass. LOL