SAN ANTONIO —
Gregg Popovich said the Spurs dug themselves a hole by giving up 39 points in the first quarter, and said Dejounte Murray was amazing in the loss.
Keldon Johnson agreed on both counts, and called Murray an All Star after the game.
Lonnie Walker IV got the scoring going for the Spurs with a corner three. Dejounte Murray made a pair of passes to cutters who finished at the cup, then drove there himself. Keita Bates-Diop hit a corner three to tie the game at 12.
Houston pulled ahead a bit, then Murray pulled up for three and drilled it. The Spurs played poor defense and gave Eric Gordon a few threes as the Rockets shot out to a 25-15 lead.
Keldon Johnson made his return after COVID health and safety protocols, and his first shot was way short. Devin Vassell made his return as well, and he stopped an 11-0 Rockets run, first with free throws, then with a steal and transition and-1.
San Antonio forced another turnover, then Bryn Forbes swished a transition three to make it an 8-0 Spurs run.
Houston pushed their lead to nine, then Vassell busted up another play and Bryn drilled another three. Houston pushed their lead to nine again, then Bryn drilled another three. After a stop, Landale posted and whipped it to Bryn in the corner for his fourth triple of the quarter.
Forbes picked up right where he left off with his fifth three of the game to tie things up. Houston ripped off a 7-0 run, and Pop called time.
Lonnie hit a jumper through contact, and the Spurs won a challenge on the play. Walker jumped in for an explosive steal, ran the break and dished it to Dejounte for a dunk. Houston pushed the lead to nine in transition, and Pop called time again.
Forbes and Poeltl each set a screen, Forbes got the ball at the arc and hit Poeltl on the roll for free throws.
Keldon Johnson created a few buckets for himself, Poeltl finished off a deep seal, and Vassell got free throws. Primo busted up a pass and fed a break that ended in free throws for Keldon, and the Spurs cut it to two.
Johnson and Murray ran a fun two man game to get Keldon a tough reverse under the hoop, and Forbes hit another three to put the Spurs in front.
Primo used a sick fake at the rim to get Jalen Green in the air, and floated one home over him. On the other end, Poeltl smashed Green's layup attempt into the AT&T Center crowd.
Murray forced the much bigger Christian Wood to miss inside, then drew a flagrant foul, then Wood got a technical. Murray got a switch on Wood with the clock winding down, and took him to the rack using his long arms to finish. San Antonio led 67-63 at halftime.
Houston opened with a few buckets to take the lead before KBD hit a corner three on a feed from Murray. Wood answered, but then Primo found KBD on the wing again for another big three.
Walker drove hard and scooped it to Poeltl for a scoop layup through a foul, even hitting the free throw. Murray ripped a steal and got to the line to give the Spurs their biggest lead at 77-72. Poeltl poked away a steal, DJ found Lonnie, and Lonnie jumped so high on the dunk he nearly hit his head on the rim.
Poeltl snagged an offensive board and zipped it to Dejounte, who was a blur streaking toward the basket. Houston had a problem, and called time down nine. Keldon banked home a nice little fadeaway, but the Rockets clawed back and Pop called time up 86-81.
After a stretch of sloppy two-way play, Eric Gordon hit a three. Next trip down he pulled up in pick and roll and gave the Rockets a lead. Forbes drove in and floated one home, then Gordon finished his own drive.
Walker forced the defense to foul him on a drive, and he put the Spurs in front. He made a mistake fouling Eric Gordon, and San Antonio trailed 91-90 heading to the fourth.
The Rockets went on a run to start the final period, but Jak made a few stops at the cup and Dejounte finished a tough layup to make it 97-94 Houston.
Houston executed out of the timeout and built a nine-point advantage before another difficult interior finish for Murray with the right. Dejounte jumped in for a steal, but no clear path foul was called and the Spurs couldn't score.
DJ passed to KBD in the corner, who made an extra pass to Keldon for three. Murray passed to Primo, who dribbled around a few screens and made a sneaky delivery to Keldon in the corner for another three.
Murray drove under the basket, then whipped it to Vassell for another corner three. Houston answered with three big shots, pushing their lead to a dozen with 3:51 to play.
Murray pulled up and hit a much-needed three, then drove to the right for an extremely difficult and-1. DJ ripped the red-hot Kevin Porter Jr., then hit the trailing Vassell for a huge three. Murray caught a rocket reaching, drove through him, and got another and-1 to make it a one-possession game with two minutes left.
Dejounte missed but stole the board, found Vassell in the corner for three, but it didn't fall. Murray took a frustration foul when the Rockets got the board, but Houston missed the first.
Murray missed on a physical drive, and KPJ hit an insane bailout three over Murray to beat the clock.
Poeltl hit a pair of free throws, the Spurs got a stop, and Murray pulled up and hit another triple. It looked too little too late for San Antonio, as they fouled Eric Gordon and went down by 7.
Murray hit a three through a foul to get a career-high 32 points, but he missed the free throw and couldn't secure the board. San Antonio fell at the buzzer after shooting the most three-point attempts in franchise history.
The San Antonio Spurs (15-25) will return home following their seven-game road trip to host the Houston Rockets (11-31) tonight. This is the Spurs and Rockets first meeting this regular season.
In addition, the Spurs will be without several key players due to NBA COVID protocols, but Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson will both be available.
In the Spurs' previous game, the team was unable to end their long road trip with a win, losing to the Knicks, 111-96, at Madison Square Garden.
Dejounte Murray led the team with 24 points off 11-19. Lonnie Walker IV finished with 15 points and Jakob Poeltl ended the night with 12 points.
Here are five things to watch for in tonight's game:
1. The Rockets are 2-14 overall when trailing after the third period this season.
2. In their 31 losses, the Rockets have given up 116.4 points per game to their opponents.
3. The Rockets average 17.0 turnovers per game.
4. The Spurs are averaging 105.7 points per game and are shooting 31% from the three-point line through six games played in January.
5. The Spurs have won two-straight games against Houston and are 3-6 at home against West teams.
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