El Conclusion: Houston Rockets 104, San Antonio Spurs 98

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San Antonio Spurs 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
104 Houston Rockets
Tim Duncan, PF 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -14A fairly quick 30 minutes for Duncan, who didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. There were a few tough matchups for the Fundamental, bouncing back and forth between Dwight Howard, Omer Asik and Terrence Jones.

Aron Baynes, PF 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | 0Well, this wasn’t like the last time Baynes started against Dwight Howard. Ah well. Can’t win them all against a guy you would expect to be a Hall of Famer.

Damion James, SF 29 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +13Nine rebounds in 29 minutes as a small forward is a positive, but offensively he’s pretty far behind most guys in the NBA, especially those in silver and black. My guess is that you can count the number of playoff games in which he’ll be in uniform on one hand.

Tony Parker, PG 26 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -12Parker went to the locker room in the second half, but reports suggest that it’s nothing to be concerned about. That said, his health and relative freshness is one of the Spurs’ major concerns as the playoffs develop after what happened last season when he faded in the Finals with injury/exhaustion.

Marco Belinelli, SG 33 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -8Belinelli tried to carry San Antonio offensively in the second half, but it wasn’t quite enough. Probably doesn’t hurt to give him some shooting practice in a live game right before playoffs, though.

Matt Bonner, PF 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -4The Red Mamba is still getting over a bout of food poisoning and didn’t play a whole lot against Houston. I don’t think that Bonner will get a whole lot of minutes come playoff time; he’ll be deployed on a situational basis is my guess.

Boris Diaw, PF 25 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +10You started to see the competitive juices of Husky LeBron flowing at the end of the game as the Spurs desperately tried to overtake the Rockets. And then Boris drank that juice.

Austin Daye, SF 6 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5All of Daye’s minutes came late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line because why not? Couldn’t hurt to give him a few throwaway clutch minutes.

Jeff Ayres, C 19 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -4Saw Ayres catch a pass in scoring position, so that was cool.

Cory Joseph, PG 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +6I thought Joseph’s defense on James Harden late was good, all things considered. Harden is one of the toughest covers in the league and an expert at drawing fouls. The Rockets’ MVP candidate had seven points and three free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. I think that’s a resolution you can live with.

Manu Ginobili, SG 22 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -12The back-and-forth flop-off with James Harden was fun. Otherwise, it was a pretty uneventful night for Ginobili.

Two Things We Saw

  1. The Rockets swept the Spurs in the regular season series, but I don’t think that has a huge bearing on how things might play out should the two teams meet in the second round of the playoffs. Terrence Jones is trouble as a power forward for someone like Duncan, so it could be a series where we see the Spurs play more of Kawhi Leonard at the 4 and Duncan on Howard.
  2. At the time of this writing, the Suns and Grizzlies were playing each other in a game which could decide who the Spurs are playing in the first round of the playoffs. If that’s decided tonight, I do not know if that means we’ll know when San Antonio kicks-off their postseason run. We’ll know Wednesday night at the latest. [Update: The Grizzlies beat the Suns 97-91 to eliminate Phoenix. Memphis still plays Dallas to determine who the 7th and 8th seeds will be in the playoffs.]
  • David Donnel

    Hmmm not sure Ayers should have gotten “incomplete”. Solid 19 minutes.

  • Graham

    Surprisingly good showing by the bench tonight. Makes me more confident heading into the playoffs that everyone will be ready.

  • latinspur

    I do mind that we were swept by two hypothetical playoffs rivals. Dont understimate that.

  • spurs10

    The circumstances of how we were swept should be considered. There is a reason why we won a lot more games than everyone and played all the same people. It will make us all the more motivated to beat them in the playoffs. Doubt Tim and Tony will sit out the 4th quarter. Jeez they played their starting five 40 minutes and barely squeezed by. Don’t underestimate the Spurs the Spurs in the playoffs.

  • td4life

    I agree. They overuse the “INC” around here. CJ, Manu and Baynes hardly played more, Daye less. I didn’t get to watch this one, and it would be nice to know if Ayers looked worthy of playoff minutes against teams with athletic fours, like this very Rockets team.

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  • Trade Ayres

    True. He should’ve gotten at most a D. I’ve never seen a more useless big man on the defensive end. He makes Shawn Bradley look like Mutombo.

  • Tyler

    Playoffs are a totally different animal. I don’t believe it’s indicative of what we’ll see in the playoffs if/when we play Houston.

  • Graham

    So much this. There’s a reason they don’t hand out championships based solely on the regular season. People are putting WAY too much stock in these regular season series results. FiveThirtyEight had a great piece a while back discussing how of all the playoff teams last year, the spurs had the most drastic jump in performance, solely because they transitioned from their regular season rotations to playoff minutes for all their big performers. The Playoff Spurs are a completely different team, one that both OKC and Houston haven’t even come close to facing yet. It may not guarantee a victory, but it sure will be a look they aren’t ready for.