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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 win rock fight against Spurs, 93-82

POSTED: December 11, 2023 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets improved to 11-9 overall with a 93-82 home win over the San Antonio Spurs Monday night. The last time the Rockets won a game with that low of a point total was with 93 vs. Dallas on October 30, 2016.

"A ragged win; but, we'll take it," Ime Udoka, Houston Rockets head coach, said after the game. "Defense was great. Offense wasn't."

Rockets forward Tari Eason led Houston with 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Eason was feeling under the weather the last few games; but, his energy and effort were key Monday night.

"Everything kind of came back and hit me," Eason said of being sick. "Respiratory. Cough. Nose. Throat. Stuff like that. I had to take an IV and stuff before the game to get myself going. But, just trying to get better the next few days here."

The 18 and 14 is Eason's first double-double of the season and the eighth of his career.

The Rockets trailed the Spurs 21-19 after the first quarter. Houston missed 20 of 26 field goal attempts (23.1 fg%) in the opening quarter while the Spurs shot 36.4 fg% (8 for 22) from the floor.

Veteran forward Jeff Green scored 12 of Houston's 32 points in the second quarter. The Rockets outscored the Spurs 32-26 in the second period to lead 51-47 at halftime.

The third quarter was a brick-fest: the Spurs made 6 of 20 field goal attempts (30.0 fg%) while the Rockets made 6 of 21 (28.6 fg%) in the quarter.

Houston outscored San Antonio 18-15 in the third stanza and led 69-62 after 36 minutes.

San Antonio forward Doug McDermott hit a 3-point shot to start the scoring in the fourth and cut Houston's lead to 4 (69-65). Nearly 100 seconds later, Eason swished a 3-pointer to push Houston's lead back to 7.

The Spurs pulled within 4 points three times; but, the Rockets had an answer each time. Leading 81-77 after a tip-in by Spurs' rookie Victor Wembanyama, Rockets guard Fred VanVleet swished a pull up three-point shot.

Then, Alperen Sengun blocked Spurs' Malaki Branham's layup attempt. Jabari Smith Jr rebounded the miss and Eason finished the play with a dunk for an 86-77 Rockets' lead with 3:12 remaining in the game.

Victor Wembanyama finished the game with a team-high 15 points with game-highs of 18 rebounds and 5 blocks. It's his 11th double-double of the season. No other player younger than 20 had more than seven double-doubles through the first 21 games played of a career prior in NBA history.

VanVleet iced the game with another three-point basket with 59.1 seconds remaining to send the Rockets to their 10th-straight home victory.

Houston's 10 straight home wins ties for its longest streak since a franchise-best 20-game span from 1/10-4/5/18 while San Antonio has lost 17 straight, marking its longest streak in franchise history.

The Rockets won despite shooting a season-worst 34.4% from the floor. The last time Houston won when shooting below 35.0% was vs. Portland on 1/18/15 (34.8%)

San Antonio shot 5 for 41 from 3-point range. Prior to Monday night, the fewest three-point field goals made Houston allowed in a game when an opponent had 40+ attempts was 7. The 12.2% 3-point shooting by the Spurs is the fourth-lowest percentage by a team with 40+ attempts in NBA history. Houston holds the lowest mark (4-of-45; 8.9% vs. Memphis on 2/28/21).

"We're going to guard every night; and, when the offense is flowing it's a 20-point win," Coach Udoka said. "When it's not, we can still win by 11.

"We didn't play our best offense, like I said, but still relied on defense and did a lot of great things out there."


The Rockets' next game is Wednesday, December 13, at home, against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.

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