San Antonio Spurs 116, Houston Rockets 107: Witherspoon makes the most of his start

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TOYOTA CENTER — Gregg Popovich continued his shuffling of the Spurs preseason roster in a 116-107 win over the Rockets. Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson got the day off, while Tim Duncan and Tony Parker didn’t make it past the first quarter.

As a result, Wesley Witherspoon got the start and scored 17 points on 6-9 from the field. Pop and his coaching staff got a look at several of the guys vying for the final roster spot. Witherspoon, Eddy Curry and Derrick Brown all played at least 15 minutes. Josh Powell logged a DNP-CD.

It would be nice to say we learned something about these guys that we didn’t know before this game, but that wasn’t the case. Curry can still score down low and rotate over for the occasional help-side block. He also can’t do much else defensively. Derrick Brown is probably the most versatile of those looking for spot on the roster, but Brown can’t score outside of the no-charge circle.

Witherspoon has had the quietest preseason so far, but managed to break out a bit on Sunday thanks to starting alongside the Spurs regulars and getting some extended playing time. Witherspoon led the Spurs in scoring and shot 2-4 from 3-point range.

After logging a DNP-CD for Friday’s game against the Nuggets, Witherspoon’s start on Sunday felt like a nice going away present for someone who might soon be waived. I have no earthly idea if that is/was the case, but Witherspoon presented a strong case for why he should stick around.

  • Nando De Colo is fun to watch play offense. He sees the court beautifully and anticipates what his teammates are going to do better than most players, it’s such a shame that his defense will probably keep him off the floor when the regular season starts. De Colo finished with seven points and five assists against Houston, even knocking down a 3-pointer. He’s a joy to watch.
  • DeJuan Blair knocked down another jump shot this preseason. His DiMaggio-like streak continues.
  • I know it’s only the preseason, but for long stretches of this game I was trying to figure out how I would rather have Jeremy Lin instead of Cory Joseph. I didn’t come up with anything. I know, it’s only preseason.
  • Danny Green shot well. He hit 3-5 from 3-point range and 6-9 overall for 15 points. It’s good to have him back.

Hot on: Playing Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan together. The two centers haven’t played a lot together because Splitter is naturally a better backup for Duncan than floormate, but I think the Spurs have greater potential as a defensive team with lineups featuring those players together. If they can figure out how to play together offensively during the regular season, without bogging down one of the league’s best scoring teams, San Antonio could increase its playoff potential. I’m all for working this group together early in the season with the goal of working out the kinks as the season unfolds.

Cold on: The pass to yourself off the backboard. For the second game in a row, a Spurs opponent has gotten picked up his dribble and gotten himself out of it by throwing the ball to himself off the backboard. It was Denver’s Andre Igoudala on Friday night and on Sunday, the Rockets’ Carlos Delfino pulled it off. I know it’s technically a smart play, but it just seems selfish.

  • assistman

    I always think of Arvedas Sabonis when I see the pass off the backboard to oneself for the bucket. Clyde Drexler didn’t mention that in the broadcast, just said, “Old School!”

    I find myself perking up when De Colo enters the game, and like him as a point guard. CoJo is coming along, and with his defense, he could own the backup PG role in SA for a long time… but not yet! We should continue to develop him, and not give him a spot just yet since he won’t get playoff tick anyway, and we can tinker with the rest of the roster. With too many promising back up guards, and two aging wings in Manu and Jax, we should be able to make some trades for, well, er… someone like Witherspoon at the very least.

    Bonner did not help his case tonight.

    Big Eddy will get buckets off the bench. Just sayin’.

  • lvmainman

    Witherspoon looked quite fluid and smooth with his shot, dribbling and ability to get open. Didn’t look like he was very physical. Derrick Brown’s jump shot was ugly and he doesn’t seem to dribble as well as Witherspoon.

  • 1KillerSpur

    I cringed every time bonner got the ball.

  • http://twitter.com/slapdoghoops Jeffrey Thompson

    The player that I have been most impressed with is Eddy Curry. He look slim, fit, and more energetic than he has ever had in his career. here’s to him making the Spurs!!

  • Mill Da analysist

    Witherspoon should make da team he’s a athletic 6’9 shooter that could drive as well and draw fouls

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