Rockets beat Spurs 93-82 and send San Antonio to its franchise-record 17th straight loss

Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun collides on a drive to the basket with San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 11, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) (Michael Wyke, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – On the night the San Antonio Spurs set a franchise record with their 17th consecutive loss, rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama wasn’t hanging his head.

The top overall pick was instead looking ahead to brighter days that he knows are in store for his team.

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“Of course it’s not easy, but we don’t have a choice,” he said. “Keep going, keep grinding. The good thing is nobody doubts that in the long run we’re going to be the winners. ... I hate losing, but I stay focused on the long run goal.”

Tari Eason had a season-high 18 points and 14 rebounds off the bench as the Houston Rockets got the 93-82 win on Monday to keep San Antonio winless since a 132-121 victory over Phoenix on Nov. 2.

Wembanyama had 15 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, along with an overpowering dunk over Houston's Alperen Sengun in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to get the Spurs back in the win column.

The Rockets won their 10th straight home game and third in a row overall.

“Didn’t play our best offensively, but really relied on our defense,” Houston coach Ime Udoka said.

A tip-in by Wembanyama got San Antonio within four points with about four minutes remaining. Fred VanVleet made a 3-pointer for Houston seconds later before Sengun blocked a shot at the other end to give the Rockets the ball back.

Eason added a dunk to stretch Houston's lead to 86-77 with three minutes left. The Spurs called a timeout, but it didn’t help as Houston used a 5-2 run, with another 3 by VanVleet, to make it 91-79 with less than a minute left.

Udoka raved about Eason's performance.

“He impacted the game a ton of ways,” he said. “Getting all the loose balls, hitting big shots. We needed a little spark there and he gave it.”

VanVleet added 16 points and Sengun had 15 for the Rockets.

San Antonio shot 5 of 41 (12%) from 3-point distance. Keldon Johnson missed all nine of his long distance shots and Devin Vassell went 1 for 9.

“I just feel badly — it’s hard to know what to do when you’re missing that many shots,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It just makes it very, very difficult. But they’re growing in all kinds of ways and I just wish they could catch a break that way as far as making some shots.”

Johnson said the losing streak has been difficult, but that he's remaining positive.

“I’m a competitor I want to win,” he said. “... I will not change who I am as a person because we’re losing.”

The Rockets held an eight-point lead after a basket by Eason with about nine minutes to go. A 7-3 run by San Antonio, with the first four points from Vassell, cut the lead to 77-73 with about 6½ minutes left.

The Spurs used a 6-0 run to tie it early in the third, but Houston got 3s from Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. on consecutive possessions to start an 8-0 spurt that gave the Rockets a 61-53 lead.

Aaron Holiday made a 3-pointer to push Houston’s lead to 10 points late in the third quarter before the Spurs made the last three points of the quarter, with a shot from Wembanyama, to get within 69-62 entering the fourth.

Rookie Amen Thompson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, had two points and five rebounds in his return after missing the last 13 games with a sprained right ankle.


Spurs: Host the first of consecutive home games against the Lakers on Wednesday.

Rockets: Host Memphis on Wednesday.



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