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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' 8 not enough in 103-91 loss to Spurs
POSTED: January 16, 2021 -- 10:15 p.m. CT
SAN ANTONIO, TX (AT&T Center) -- Thursday evening, the Houston Rockets Nine topped the San Antonio Spurs 109-105. Saturday evening, the Houston Rockets Eight lost to the Spurs 103-91.
Eight was not enough for the Rockets.
The Rockets were without key players Eric Gordon (left lower leg, tightness), John Wall (left knee, soreness), DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle, soreness), Sterling Brown (right lower leg, soreness), Danuel House Jr (self isolating), and also newly acquired players Victor Oladipo and Danté Exum (right calf, strain).
As result of so many players inactive for the game, undrafted rookie guard Mason Jones started in the backcourt. Jones was the Rockets' only primary ball handler while fellow rookie Jae'Sean Tate was the other option to handle the ball.
Jones delivered 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in 35 minutes, 22 seconds. The last Rockets rookie to score 20 or more points was Troy Williams with 21 at Phoenix on April 2, 2017.
Houston's lack of ball handlers and decision makers resulted in 23 team turnovers. Jones had 6 of the turnovers. The Spurs scored 31 points off the Rockets turnovers.
"It's hard when you only have 8 guys and one primary ball handler," Stephen Silas, Rockets Head Coach, said during his postgame media session. "And, guys thrust into roles that they aren't necessarily used to."
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Houston (4-7) scored 30 points in the first quarter and led 30-21 at the end of 12 minutes. Ben McLemore scored 13 of his 21 points in the first quarter to lead the Rockets. Houston made 10 of 22 field goal attempts in the opening quarter.
Houston made 21 of 62 field goal attempts - with 19 turnovers - the rest of the ball game.
With 1.1 second remaining in the first half, Jones sank his third three-point shot of the half to put the Rockets ahead 53-50 at halftime.
Houston made just 6 of 21 field goal attempts in the third quarter as the Spurs outscored Houston 25-19 in the third stanza.
The Rockets trailed 75-72 after three periods. Jae'Sean Tate scored a layup to pull Houston within 1 point (75-74) with 11:21 remaining in the game. The Spurs scored 6 straight points to push its lead to 81-74 with 10:05 remaining in the game.
Houston got within 3 points two more times in the final period; but, the Spurs outscored the Rockets 15-3 during a 5 minute stretch to put the game away.
After the game, Mason Jones said of 24, 6, and 4 performance, "It really don't mean a lot when we don't get the dub though. It was a good chance to seize the opportunity; but, at the end of the day, I really just wanted the W."
Christian Wood tied Jones with 24 points. Wood also had a career-high 18 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocked shots.
The Rockets will conclude their three game road trip with a Monday, January 18, match-up in Chicago against the Bulls.
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