Rockets 96, Spurs 121 - Spurs Respond With Emphatic Game 2 Win

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After an absolute shellacking in Game 1, the San Antonio Spurs were poised for a strong response in Game 2 on Wednesday night – a response that the Houston Rockets were expecting. In the 48 hours of media availability since Game 1, Houston’s players and personnel made sure to acknowledge that Monday’s contest was just one great game in a series against an even greater franchise. About being ready to win Game 2 in San Antonio, James Harden said, “We’ve got to get greedy.”

A major adjustment that Gregg Poppovic made for the Spurs was to start the game with Kawhi Leonard guarding James Harden. This got the ball out of Harden’s hands early, forcing Houston’s role players to make plays. And they did, for the majority of the game. Ryan Anderson found his shooting stroke, Eric Gordon made some big plays on both ends of the floor, and Patrick Beverley, Nene, and Clint Capela all scored in double figures.

However, the battle of the MVP candidates was overwhelmingly in San Antonio’s favor. In addition to Kawhi (and Danny Green) playing Harden tight for the majority of this game, Harden seems to have injured a hip or re-tweaked his ankle on a play that saw him awkwardly stumble around a basket stanchion. Harden couldn’t find any inkling of an offensive groove until the third quarter (where he scored 10 points and dished out five assists), but he still finished the game with just 13 points on an abysmal 3/17 shooting from the field (17.6%).

Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard epitomized the efficiency that made the Spurs a 61-win juggernaut this season. He scored 34 points on 13/16 shooting (81.3%) and recorded eight assists with seven rebounds. He also added three steals, while Pau Gasol – who started this game, another Pop adjustment – blocked four shots. The Spurs had five players in double-digit scoring, but an injury to Tony Parker’s left knee looms large for this series going forward.

The Spurs came out as efficiently as possible, but the Rockets largely weathered any storm that came their way – that is, until the fourth quarter. Despite cutting a double-digit lead to just five points (88-83) by the end of the third quarter, the Rockets failed to get anything done on either end of the floor – allowing the Spurs to blow this game out in demoralizing fashion.

At the end of the day the Rockets still managed to steal home-court by winning Game 1 in San Antonio, and they find themselves with a grand opportunity to take a commanding series lead as they gear up to play the next two games in Houston. Game 3 is on Friday night.

Game Ball

This is a segment of the game recaps that will give the proverbial game ball to a player that proved to be most valuable to the Rockets on a given night. This award won’t necessarily go to the player that puts up the best numbers, but to the player that made the greatest impact on the team – tangible or intangible.

Wednesday’s game ball, if there has to be one, goes to Ryan Anderson.

To say that Ryan Anderson has been bad in the Playoffs would be a gross understatement. Prior to Game 2 on Wednesday night, Anderson had hit just 12.5% of his three-points attempts (3/24), but he seemed to have opened the floodgates by hitting four of his five attempts from beyond the arc on the way to 18 points on nearly 78% shooting. In addition to finally hitting shots, Ryno attacked the glass to the tune of eight rebounds.

Unfortunately, Anderson fell hard on his already-taped right wrist (his shooting wrist) after unsuccessfully attempting to draw charge. He didn’t take another shot after that play, but it’s hard to know how much impact, if any, that play may affect his shooting going forward.

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