Preseason: Houston Rockets 90, San Antonio Spurs 87


TOYOTA CENTER — It wasn’t a packed house and there wasn’t a lot of fanfare, at least not for the silver and black, but the San Antonio Spurs finally tipped-off their season on Thursday night in a 90-87 loss to the Houston Rockets. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich mixed both veterans and roster hopefuls in his lineups throughout the night.

“I was just trying to give everybody a chance to show what they can do, and get ready for the season at the same time,” Coach Popovich said after the game.

DeJuan Blair led the Spurs with 12 points and eight rebounds. Blair was in the starting lineup alongside Tim Duncan, in what could be a fixture for San Antonio. Blair and Duncan worked well together, especially on the offensive end where each players movement and spacing seemed to complement the other.

“Because [ Blair] can pass, he can play with Timmy,” Coach Pop said. “I just think he’s going to be a very good player for us.”
With Duncan and Blair in the game, the Spurs controlled the boards. Both players finished the first half with four rebounds, Blair’s all came on the offensive end, Duncan’s on the defensive.

Richard Jefferson was also in the starting lineup on Thursday night, and after a summer working with Coach Pop and Chad Forcier to fine-tune his role on the team, Jefferson finally got to show what he could do.

Though 2-9 shooting from the field doesn’t look pretty, the way in which he got it, did. Jefferson showed almost no glimpses of the uncertainty and hesitation that hindered him in his first season with the Spurs. Instead, Jefferson shot the ball in rhythm and attacked the basket when he got the chance.

“I think he’s been aggressive looking for his shot, they didn’t fall tonight but he looked for it,” Coach Pop said. “We want that aggressiveness out of him.”

It wasn’t the best start he could’ve had, but it is definitely one to build upon.

“I thought he worked hard on ‘D,’ and he’s in very good shape,” Pop said. “So, just what we want him to do.”

  • BigJ

    Andrew, thank you for the game summary. DB has got that step up look.

    FYI, there is a typo with in the last line…regarding whom made the comment.

  • McShane

    I think the typo should stay, it’s mildly entertaining.

  • DieHardSpur

    DeAn Blair looked fantastic. First score of the game was his jumper. Cousin looked really great in a limited role. I think he would be just fine as a back up big. Was it just me or did we get our ass handed to us when bonnet played an entire quarter? I sure hope that never happens in a real game. I like what Gist brought; defense when it counted, an ok post game (fouls were rookie fouls). Penny definitely has a nice shooting stroke, you could tell nerves got the best of him. Neal has fantastic handles, I sure wish he has shot outside a little more. I couldn’t get much of a read on Anderson other than great hustle and a capable defender. Tony looked GREAT. Manu had 5 assists in about 2 minutes. LOL. Tommy looked very fast… that’s all I got.

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  • DieHardSpur

    Damned Smart Phone…


  • DieHardSpur

    Damned Smart Phone…


  • DieHardSpur

    And… The starting line up was fantastic. They played fantastic. offensively and defensively.

  • Jacob

    When the Spurs had their regular players in the game, executing their normal game plan, they outplayed Houston’s starters on both ends of the floor. Yes this is just a pre-season game, and yes Yao was very limited, so I’m not using this as a glimpse into the future, but the Spurs have plenty of weapons to match against the Rockets.

    I completely agree with the article. Even though Jefferson’s line did not show it, his playing attitude and hustle were wonderful. If he had just a few more shots fall, there would be alot more buzz about him this morning.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    Oh boy. Thanks for the heads-up on that typo guys. See, that’s why you don’t post recaps on just three hours of sleep.

  • Gilbert Medina

    Hope Gist plays himself on to the team. I would love to have someone with his youth, size, and athleticism to continue to grow uder Pop’s tutelage. It would be nice to have someone that size to try to deal with the spread 4’s in the league.

  • DieHardSpur

    @Gilbert Medina – I was thinking the same.

    I was actually hoping we could use him as a three in some cases (Lakers), but it doesnt look like it is going to happen. I did, however, enjoy his, and Anderson’s, on-ball defense…

  • ITGuy

    “Was it just me or did we get our ass handed to us when bonnet played an entire quarter?”

    It was just you; Bonner wasn’t playing by himself.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    @DieHardSpur @ITGuy

    Marcus Cousin and Matt Bonner played most, if not all, of the second quarter and the Rockets outrebounded the Spurs 15-9 that quarter.

  • Lenneezz

    Man, I’ve been complaining about RJ for a while. He looked timid last year, especially when the pressure was on.

    If we see a confident RJ this season, it could be huge. I also thought this game was a step in the right direction.

  • DieHardSpur

    Not just rebounding, Matty is completely irrelivent on defense… but I dont know how. He hustles, stays in front of his man, always has his hands up…? I dont get it.

    There was a big difference in scoring, rebounding, and defense when Dejuan and Timmy left the floor – imagine that. If only these guys could play 48 minutes…

  • Jaceman

    Reading the ProjectSpurs recap it sounded like Anderson was forcing the issue a bit. Think it’s just first game jitters?

    While I know we all think Splitter will eventually take the starting role, do we project Blair to be like an improved Malik Rose circa 2003 or perhaps Charles Barkley lite?

  • Andrew A. McNeill


    I don’t think he forced the issue so much as he is just out of shape. He was one of the last to check into the game and he looked the most gassed during the fourth quarter. He’s also not quick enough to get by defenders, and that resulted in him committing a couple of turnovers.

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  • Alix Babaie

    I am excited about the Spurs upcoming season. Some many pundits knocked them for not improving but seriously, health players on the roster are the biggest acquisition for them. Splitter being a part of the big man rotation is going to pay big time dividends along with a trim, muscular DeJuan Blair! GO SPURS GO, DRIVE FOR FIVE!!!!!

  • Hobson13

    Sounds like Pop is really looking to play Blair this year. That’s good. Really good. Blair can be a special player if given the opportunity to play, make some mistakes, and learn. Many of our guys simply didn’t shoot the ball well, which, I suppose is par for the course since it’s their first live action in months. I hope RJ finds his shot. Marcus Cousin looked good. Maybe he finds a spot on the roster.

  • BlaseE

    I didn’t get to watch the game. I’m reading a lot of mixed reports on Marcus Cousin. Some people said his defense was terrible and he couldn’t catch a pass. Others say he was decent. His stats look pretty good.

    Anyone have some insight? I mean there is no way he makes the roster, right? It’s Toros or bust for him, I thought.

  • DieHardSpur

    @ Blase,

    I watched every minute of the game.

    I think he is a servicable 5th big. I have bad news for him; If Yawn couldnt get any playing time and stick around, I really doubt this kid will either. He is not explaosive, but hustles. Not a shooter, but 90% of his points will lay ups and dunks. He shoots free throws well, so he most definitely will not make the final cut.

    Gist is the one I would look to be our back up. I dont know why, but i think he has “rediculous upside”

  • Jim Henderson

    Posted last night on previous thread:

    Jim Henderson
    October 7th, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Just a few brief observations about our preseason opener tonight against the Rockets in Houston.

    First of all, I wasn’t able to see the game, but a few things in the box score jumped out at me.

    At this stage, for me it only makes sense to comment about the players that are rookies and/or fighting for roster spots. I’d like to group my comments into three categories: (1) “initially promising”, (2) “initially concerning”, and (3) “not sure”.

    Initially Promising:

    Let’s face it, some of the guys we brought in are primarily to be shooter/scorers off the bench. I clearly put Neal & Penney in that category. And one thing we do know about scoring is that you won’t be successful in that role without putting up enough shots! For the game tonight, Penney & Neal combined for 7 for 15 in FG attempts, 16 points, in 26:39 minutes, which included 2 for 4 from three point land. That’s about one shot attempt every 1:46 minutes, which is a very nice and assertive ratio for a “scorer” off the bench. I would have liked to have seen a couple more 3-point attempts in those minutes from these two, but still, a very auspicious start in my view.

    We certainly could use another “big” on this team that can be productive and fill a relatively minor role off the bench, particularly in the case of emergency (e.g., injury). And unless the box score is lying to me, Marcus Cousin made a particularly impressive bid to land a contract to start off the season in Austin. Ten points (4-9 shooting), 8 rebounds (4 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and zero turnovers in 24 minutes. I don’t know about you, but as a first outing, I’m thoroughly impressed by that line.

    Initially Concerning:

    It’s hard to make a big point here, for it’s just his first game, but I’d have to say that Jerrell’s box score looked a bit shaky. In 12 minutes, 2 points (1-3 shooting), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, and 4 personal fouls. I’m more concerned about the turnovers & personal fouls than anything else. A foul every 3 minutes, and a turnover every 6 minutes is a bit high. Now Simmons, he has me a bit more concerned because he’s a veteran, and we could REALLY use a true back-up SF. My biggest anxiety from the box is that he put up just 4 shot attempts in 18 minutes (making only one of them – and I think he only had 2 attempts in his first 13 minutes), which included just one attempt from beyond the arc. We could use an ace defender at the SF position, but Simmons was brought in primarily because he has SF size, and is an excellent shooter that can really nail corner three’s. It reminds me of Bonner, some games, and infuriates me in the sense that you simply can’t be a “shooter” and put up just one shot attempt every 5 or 6 minutes. Not gonna work. So unless Simmons played VERY impressive “D” out on the wing, he needs to get that shot oiled up. The sooner the better.

    Not sure:

    James Gist is an interesting guy because of his length & athleticism. It looks like he struggled with his shot tonight (2-7 shooting, which could be an issue), but it also looks like he was pretty active out their without the ball, getting a steal & 6 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. Because I can’t really see “defense” through the box score, I’m not able to upgrade his performance to “initially promising”. For James Anderson I can’t really make an assessment. He got too few minutes (8), and he’s still working on his conditioning. Also, Temple had too few minutes, and Gee didn’t play tonight.

    Overall, seemed like a productive first preseason game. What is everyone else’s take? I’d be particularly interested in hearing from those that had the opportunity to see the game.

  • Jim Henderson

    Looks like the Spurs plan to only carry 13 on the roster, or 14 at max:

  • Jacob

    Well, if that is the case, my Spurs roster would be this (barring any unforseen injury or breakout):

    Parker – Hill – Temple
    Ginobili – Anderson – Neal
    Jefferson – Simmons
    Duncan – Blair – Bonner
    Splitter – McDyess

  • rob

    Didn’t get to watch the game either. Thank you for the recap. Box scores can be deceiving in a pre-season venture. But it appears as the starting squad held their own and managed to build a good lead against Houston’s starters.

    I’m excited about the possibility of a starting post of Duncan and Blair. Great to hear that the two played with and off of each other well.

    I’m sure the line up that started last night might not be the same starting lineup in the next game.

    I think this probably will be especially true regarding Ginobili. His numbers don’t indicate a typical Manu presense on the court. I wouldn’t worry too much about Anderson. I think he will see more playing time in pre-season and probably would benefit more from playing with Ginobili.

    I really like Neal’s numbers. It seemed he played really well in limited action. How was his defense?

    Again…thank you for the recap…Look forward to being able to watch the next game.

  • SpursfanSteve

    I’d prefer, personally, that we drop Penney and Jerrells (at least to the D league) and keep Gist and Cousin. Gee and Simmons are both borderline. Simmons has to show he’s worth keeping now more than it’s worth keeping Gee for his potential.
    If we end up carrying 14, i’d like this:

    If 13, i think Gist either goes back to Europe or finally goes D league and/or we drop Cousin to the Toros, but i’d really like to keep both of them.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Also, Blair’s shot looks more awkward than Bonner’s, but as long as he shoots 50% or better it doesnt matter. He looked MUCH improved last night. If he gets 30 minutes a game (and i think he probably should, but i doubt he will), it’s his to lose.

  • anonymous

    i won’t to see penny doing good and he did. we just gone have to wait and see. I don’t know how coach is going to find the best from the bunch, but I pray he does, because we gone need the best one. contract or no contract. Austin is going to need players, too.n Even rats got to eat.

  • rob

    “If we end up carrying 14, i’d like this:

    That’s 15 and you didn’t include Neal who had a good debut in limited time. But I contend that it will probably be amongst those listed as well as Neal that make the squad.

    I wouldn’t put Simmons as a lock. Gee, Gist and Cousin are on the bubble as well. Temple I’m not quite sure. He played great in his sparse appearance last year and was playing great in summer league until he sprained his ankle.

    They’re all on the bubble and need to contribute well this pre-season in order to have a shot of making the roster.

    From what I read about the first pre-season game…out of the “bubble” players if they’re first game trend continues throughout pre-season…

    Parker, (Temple*), Neal
    Hill, Ginobili, Anderson
    Jefferson, Simmons, (Gee*)
    Duncan, Splitter
    Blair, McDyess, Bonner

    * Indicates player could easily be replaced by Jerrells or Gist. Remaining roster is either cut or sent to Austin.

  • GitErDun

    Didn’t Pop say that Temple was his new “FAVORITE PLAYER”?? He stays. I also think the reason for only 13-14 on the team is that they can send (and protect I think) up to 3 on the Toro’s. Neal is on a 3 year guaranteed contract – bet he stays! Simmons likely stays – No Toro time for the Vet. Cousins will go down to the Toro’s. Not sure about Toro time availability for Gist or Gee. Anderson may even do some Toro Time as well as Neal since both are on guaranteed contracts.

    I think the secret to who stays up with the Spurs will be determined by who has either guaranteed contracts and/or available Toro Time. Some of the guys have no Toro eligibility any longer (which to me is stupid).

  • Easy b

    Didn’t watch game, but just thinking about the possibilty of ‘The Big Grisly Fundamental Bear’ has got me salivating. If those two can defend well as a tandem we have already got tremendous upside as a team this season.

  • Spizzlewizzle

    Watched all the game live TV, people look in shape and our rookies looked nervous. The refs were eager to get guards to the line on checks and touches around the perimeter. Blair and Duncan meshed in the 1st great against a super slo-mo Yao and relatively weak defender in Hill. Blair’s size disadvantage is his advantage in quickness. His explosiveness was noted in the game. Tony looked 90% and ready to pounce on an all-star year. Our young players have brought a willingness to run the floor and I think our transition/ fast-break game will improve a lot with the young additions getting down the floor quicker via great outlet passes by Duncan or Tony/Manu Running the break. The Rockets have a solid team if Yao can stay on the floor; scoring not needed.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Actually, it wasnt 15. You counted a few people twice, but i did forget Neal, who has a garaunteed contract and is VERY unlikely to get cut.

  • Timothy Varner

    He’s only guaranteed $500,000. It’s unlikely, but not unimaginable.

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