Thursday night in the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals, the San Antonio Spurs were missing two of their key components as they faced the Houston Rockets. Tony Parker ( who is out with a torn quadricep) and Kawhi Leonard (who sprained his ankle in game five). Do you think that made a difference?
Not one bit, the final score was 114-75. San Antonio came out firing, as big man LaMarcus Aldridge picked up the slack and scored a season-high 34 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. You would have thought that the Rockets facing elimination from the playoffs (down three games to two) would have the advantage since the game was being played in Houston. That was not the case, the Spurs had six players score in double figures and the Rockets only had three players putting up at least ten points.
Houston appeared to look sluggish and one would wonder was the Spurs defense that intense or did the Rockets give up. Out of respect for the Rockets and the fact that we are talking about the playoffs, I would say San Antonio stepped up on defense and let their offense take care of itself. The Spurs defense was so good that “The Beard” ( James Harden ) only shot two for eleven from the floor and finished the game 19 points below his average points per game (29.5). Harden’s 10 points was a season low for him and after the game, he took responsibility for the loss.
The lone bright spot for the Rockets was Trevor Ariza stepping up and scoring 20 points (nine above his average per game) and playing all but 11 minutes of the game. Clint N’Dumba-Capela tried to help by contributing 15 points, but that was simply not enough. The Spurs looked like a well-oiled machine that could not be stopped. San Antonio took control of this game from the beginning leading 61 to 42 at the half and never looking back. Aldridge got plenty of support from Jonathon Simmons ( playing for the Injured Leonard) with his 18 points. Patty Mills scored 14, Pau Gasol 10, Danny Green 10 and rookie guard DeJounte Murray added 11 points off the bench.
The Spurs now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference final and in order for this machine to continue rolling they will definitely need Leonard back. Sunday the San Antonio and Golden State tip off game one of the final in Oakland and without Kwahi, the Spurs don’t stand a chance.
Trevin A Jones
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