SAN ANTONIO -- Bring on the NBA regular season.
After more than three weeks of training camp and six preseason games, the Spurs are days away from beginning their first season in 20 years without iconic player Tim Duncan, who retired in July.
The Silver and Black beat the Houston Rockets 114-99 Friday night at the AT&T Center in their final dress rehearsal before facing two-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State in their opener Tuesday in Oakland, Calif.
The Spurs will open the season without guard Danny Green, who is sidelined with a right-quad strain. Kyle Anderson started for Green and finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He also had four rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
"Well, I think anyone would like to have all their players so they could be together," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, when asked if Green's injury will affect the team's chemistry. "So, that's pretty logical."
San Antonio finished the preseason 4-2 and Houston was 5-2.
Houston played without four of its best players -- high-scoring guard James Harden, forward Trevor Ariza and guards Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon. The Rockets never led by more than two points early in the game before San Antonio took the lead for good, 12-10, on a fast-break layup by Anderson with 4:39 left in the opening quarter.
The star of the game was Spurs rookie guard Bryn Forbes, who came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points and strengthen his case for earning the team's final roster spot. All NBA teams must pare their rosters to 15 players by Sunday.
"Absolutely, absolutely, yeah," Forbes said, when asked if he had given his best. "I think that's all I can do, is give them my best and whatever happens from here."
"Things just started rolling," Forbes said. "I got open a lot of times. There were some plays with some great passes that a lot of guys did. They kind of helped me to get open and hopefully I'm knocking down the shots."
Popovich was asked what he thought of Forbes' performance.
"He made every shot," he said. "I was watching."
A Michigan State alum, Forbes was 0 for 3 in the first half and went scoreless before he started to find his range and scored seven points in the third quarter. He hit his only two shots of the period -- both 3-pointers -- and completed a four-point play after getting fouled on his second attempt.
Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertans scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Bertans continued to impress with his shooting, making 4 of 6 field-goal attempts and going 2 for 4 from 3-point range. LaMarcus Aldridge (12) and Tony Parker (10) were the other Spurs scoring double figures.
Center Pau Gasol scored only six points, but he pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Gasol, who was the Spurs' big free-agent acquisition this summer, was asked if he's ready to start the regular season with his new team.
"Yes, I'm excited to start off," Gasol said. "It's only four days away, so it's going to be a challenging start for sure from the first game to every single game after that."
After starting the season against Golden State, the Spurs play at Sacramento on Thursday before hosting New Orleans in their home opener next Saturday.
Final: Spurs 114, Rockets 99
Fourth quarter (7:57): Spurs 91, Rockets 81
End of third quarter: Spurs 86, Rockets 71
Third quarter (2:49): Spurs 77, Rockets 58.
Third quarter (5:55): Spurs 64, Rockets 52.
Halftime: Spurs 50, Rockets 38 . . . LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker led the Spurs' scoring in the first half with 10 points apiece. Aldridge hit 5 of 9 shots and Parker was 5 of 11. Subbing for injured Danny Green in the starting lineup, Kyle Anderson made both of his field-goal attempts and scored six points in the first two quarter. Pau Gasol led the Spurs with eight rebounds. The Silver and Black shot 46.7 percent (21/45). Houston shot 30.2 percent (16/53) . . . San Antonio's biggest lead of the first half was 15 points. Rockets' biggest lead: two points.
Second quarter (2:54): Spurs 44, Rockets 24. Nene just scored under the basket for Houston. Fouled by Gasol. Free throw coming after timeout.
Second quarter (5:39): Spurs 36, Rockets 27. The Silver and Black got the lead up to 15 (34-19) before Houston started chipping away at the deficit.
Second quarter (8:33): Spurs 28, Rockets 16. Davis Bertans, who hit a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt, is fouled on a strong drive to the basket. Two free throws coming up. Timeout.
End of first quarter: Spurs 21, Rockets 14. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with seven and six points, respectively. Houston center Nene had eight points.
Gasol, Mills downplay rumors of Aldridge's future with Spurs
SAN ANTONIO – It was business as usual Thursday for the Spurs, who returned to practice for the first time since a rumor surfaced Tuesday that forward LaMarcus Aldridge could be a short-timer in San Antonio.
Speculation about Aldridge’s future with the team began after Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com reported that the Spurs could trade the All-Star forward, who was the franchise’s big free-agent acquisition in the summer of 2015, sometime this season.
Aldridge, a five-time All-Star in 11 NBA seasons, refuted the rumors later Thursday.
Pau Gasol and Patty Mills, the only players made available to speak to the media after Thursday’s workout, both shrugged off the rumors.
“I haven’t seen any of that,” Gasol said when he was asked if he’s seen any signs of Aldridge being unhappy or if the rumors have affected the team’s chemistry. “It was surprising when I read that in a Spanish newspaper, so it must have started somewhere. But it’s weird to hear that type of rumor, especially at this point of the season. I’ve been a part of numerous trade rumors in my career. Only got traded once, luckily, but it’s part of the deal.”
The Spurs host Houston in their preseason finale at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and open the regular season against Golden State next Tuesday in Oakland, Calif. The Silver and Black will start their first season since 1996 without iconic power forward Tim Duncan, who retired this summer after playing his entire 19-year career with San Antonio.
Gasol was asked if the rumors about Aldridge had been a distraction to the team.
“No, not at all,” he said. “It hasn’t even been brought up or anything. But again, it is weird.”
Gasol, 36, is preparing for his 16th season in the NBA. He won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers after being traded from Memphis in February 2008. Gasol played with the Lakers until signing with Chicago as a free agent in July 2014.
“Certain things are just completely out of your control,” Gasol said. “I always say control what you can control. Control what’s in your hands. Wake up with a smile on our face, go to work, feel blessed. You have an incredible job, incredible position.
“And if stuff happens because people are making a certain decision about you, and it’s a business decision, it’s nothing personal because this is a business at the end of the day, then you continue to do what you do and be who you are. Don’t let that affect your daily routine. Don’t let that affect your behavior. Don’t let that change you. Just continue to be who you are. Be true to yourself.”
Mills, a guard preparing for his seventh NBA season, said he also was surprised to hear the trade rumors about Aldridge.
“My relationship has always been great with him, on the court and off the court,” Mills said.
Mills then talked about the business of the NBA.
“I guess that’s the reality of professional sports and what it’s all about,” he said. “Rumors do happen and trades do happen as well. It’s got nothing to do with us. We can only control what we can on the court and in the locker room.”
The Spurs finished a franchise-best 67-15 last season, but lost to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.
(© 2016 KENS)