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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets 1-0 in Post-Harden Era with 109-105 win over Spurs
POSTED: January 14, 2021 -- 11:53 p.m. CT
SAN ANTONIO, TX (AT&T Center) -- The Houston Rockets defeated the San Antonio Spurs 109-105 Thursday night. With the win, the Rockets improve to 4-6 this season and 1-0 AJH: "After James Harden".
Earlier Thursday, Houston announced (officially) Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a three-team trade. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the third team in the deal. None of the players Houston acquired in the three-team trade were available Thursday night. Therefore, in addition injuries and other aspects of the trade still pending, the Rockets played the game with 9 players.
Houston's Christian Wood, Sterling Brown, and Jae'Sean Tate helped lead the Houston Rockets Nine to the big victory.
Wood had a double-double in the first half and finished the game with 27 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. Brown added 23 points and 5 rebounds. Tate produced 13 points and 10 assists for his first double-double of his nascent NBA career.
Tate's 10 assists were the most assists by a Rockets' rookie since Steve Francis during the 1999-2000 season.
After the game, during his postgame media session, Tate mentioned the team held a team meeting Tuesday night -- after James Harden said this team wasn't good enough.
"It was displayed tonight," Tate said. "Just our togetherness; our junkyard dog mentality."
"We got so much to prove," Tate added. "Everybody has so much to prove."
"The whole team came together," Wood commented after the game. "I guess you can say it was a blessing disguise."
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Houston (4-6) trailed the Spurs 99-90 with 4:39 left in the fourth quarter. Wood and Brown swished back-to-back three-point shots to cut Houston's deficit to 99-96 with 3:52 on the clock.
"We hold each other accountable," Brown remarked. "We go out there and handle our business."
After the Spurs called timeout, San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge made a jumper for a five point Spurs' lead.
Jae'Sean Tate answered with a driving layup.
"We went to him down the stretch," Stephen Silas said of Tate.
After a San Antonio missed layup, Tate dished to Wood and Wood delivered with a game-tying three-point basket. Then, on Houston's next possession, Wood - after going 0 for 4 earlier in the game - sank two free throws for 103-101 lead.
Aldridge missed a three-point shot; then, Brown followed with a driving layup for a 105-101 Houston lead.
The Spurs scored to cut Houston's lead to 105-103; but, Houston had another answer: Tate attacked the basket and scored with another driving layup for a 107-103 lead with 79 seconds remaining in the game.
San Antonio's DeMar DeRozan scored layup with 60 seconds on the clock. The Spurs had a chance to tie the game at 107 in the closing seconds; however, DeRozan's turnaround jump shot rolled off the rim with less than 1 second remaining.
P.J. Tucker got the rebound; Tucker was fouled with 0.4 seconds left in the game. Tucker sank both foul shots to ice the game.
"Everybody who played tonight contributed to this team win," Coach Silas acknowledged. "It feels really good."
The Rockets will complete their two-game set against the Spurs this Saturday, January 16, with a match-up set to begin at 4 p.m.
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