SCS Film Room: Houston Rockets Steal One From Spurs

The Houston Rockets managed to overcome their biggest challenge so far in the season and defeated the Spurs on the road.

It wasn’t easy nor was it pretty, but somehow the Houston Rockets beat the San Antonio Spurs. On the last game of H-town’s grueling road trip the team stepped it up a notch tightening the defense and seized the W against their divisional rivals.

VS.

1 2 3 4 T
Spurs 24 36 20 19 99
Rockets 33 20 22 16 101

And despite shooting, rebounding and passing the basket better than their opponents the Rockets keep showcasing issues, particularly handling the ball. To wit Red Nation turned over the basket 20 times, two times as much as the Spurs.

Other than that though Houston’s side played a solid match. The Rockets outscored the Spurs in the paint (48 to 40) and from long range (30 to 21).

The visitors also shot the basket better than the hosts: 47.4% against 39.3%. Thus the only stats the Spurs had the edge in were steals (14 to 7) and blocks (5 against 4).

On the back of James Harden’s monster triple-double as well as huge defensive performances by Nene Hilario and Trevor Ariza the Spurs found themselves in the scoring backseat for larger portions of the game.

Nevertheless propelled by Kawhi Leonard the Spurs got back in the game repeatedly. And after a series of turnovers and missed free-throws the hosts had the chance of tying or even taking over the score with 5 seconds left in the clock.

Still, both Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge missed easy final shots and the Rockets left with the illustrious win.

Particularly of note was the Rockets bench fueled by Eric Gordon and Sam Dekker who feasted on the Spurs second unit. Houston’s bench led the Spurs bench in total points 37 x 34.

Regarding the Spurs, Leonard once again drove the team forward. However, not much support from his co-stars as Aldridge registered just 14 points and Gasol was remarkably silent with 2 points in just 12 minutes of playing time.

SCS Film Room offers Three Takeaways from Houston Rockets nail-bitter against the Spurs

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports.

Sam Dekker’s Career Night

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that Dekker has never knocked me over with his talents and skills. I’m also glad that he’s slowly proving me wrong.

Granted, I still dispute he may eventually grow to become a Chandler Parsons kind of player. Regardless that doesn’t mean he can’t be a competent role player or a solid contributor. To be fair this is Dekker’s first season in the NBA and these are his first real games and so far he is not disappointing.

Despite the hilarious trip on the fast break against the Knicks, Dekker has been great off the bench for the Rockets. The small forward is averaging 5.5 points per game as well as 3.9 boards. And that’s from only 15 minutes of playing time.

Against the Spurs, Dekker scored a career-high 10 points as well as contributing 7 rebounds.

Above you see how the Wisconsin product can become a threat from beyond the arc as well as get easy layups driving the basket. With time and with those huge limbs and reach Dekker can also play a big part in the team’s defensive system.

Oct 21, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Why Corey Brewer?

It’s no secret to anybody who follows the Houston Rockets that Corey Brewer is no longer the player he used to be. For the better part of last season as  through the initial games this season  Brewer has been completely useless in his minutes on the court.

Still for most critics he is treated as the elephant in the room and barely if ever mentioned whenever describing the Rockets shortcomings.

The general feel is that he is starting for defensive purposes. Is it though?

That’s Corey Brewer above leaving Patty Mills open in the corner for the easy basket.

But then there’s other people who favor Brewer due to his quickness and fast breaks potential.

That’s Brewer leading the fast break!… and missing the layup.

One thing we know for sure though is he certainly isn’t on the floor for his three-point efficiency:

I just can’t answer this question. The only thing Red Nation could do is keep asking.

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Traps and Defensive Consistency

More than once I emphasized the necessity for this team to do the little things on defense. The help and traps for arguably bad defensive sides or players are an obligation.

Whether it was Mike D’Antoni’s or Jeff Bzdelik’s work is unknown, but the team had an incredible sense of duty on the defensive end for one of the first times this season.

For example take a look at how the Rockets defended LaMarcus Aldridge:

On the gif above Aldridge is guarded by Capela and immediately as he rolls to the basket Ryan Anderson comes to help.

Likewise this happens once again a couple plays later but this time with Eric Gordon. Watch it below:

Finally even if the team still displayed issues leaving players open in the wings at least there was some attentiveness on the pass in order to deflect it:

Understanding your weaknesses and then finding ways to resolve them is key. Thus the path for the Houston Rockets defensive improvement relies on team-work, attention to details, effort and quick decisions.

Suffice to say you really can get by with a little help of your friends!

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