SAN ANTONIO – It wasn’t what the San Antonio Spurs wanted, but as they say, it’s a long season.
The Spurs couldn’t ever find their shot from distance and the team’s rocky start never got better, ultimately ending in a 134-96 drubbing by the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
But it wasn’t so much that the team lost, but how they lost, according to Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich.
“Shooting was pretty poor. And when you’re going back in transition defense all the time, all kinds of bad things are going to happen. You just can’t do it. Over and over and over again, with the missed shots. That was the worst part of the game,” Popovich said. “The second thing was physicality, we let them go where they wanted to go, and they were much more physical.”
The Spurs overall shot just 35% for the game, making only 11 of 42 from 3-point range. They were down 30-17 after the first quarter.
“Houston was much more physical, was more aggressive, that kind of thing. They got into the paint, we didn’t keep ‘em out of the paint. So, a lot of things we can do better and just work on,” Popovich said.
Devin Vassell led the team with 13 points, but shot just 4 of 13 on the night. New acquisition Isaiah Roby in his first action as a Spur scored 12 points and had five rebounds in his debut, while center Zach Collins scored 11.
“It’s a first preseason game, we’re young, I don’t think we hit many shots to start the game off. I think what we can take away, though, is if we’re not hitting shots, we still got to play on the defensive end,” Vassell said.
Popovich said the Spurs’ trio of rookies were “a fish out of water” for a little while, but said it was a natural thing. Forward Jeremy Sochan played 17 minutes off the bench and scored five points, grabbing four boards and three blocks. Malaki Brenham scored 10 points in just 14 minutes of action on four of five shooting. Guard Blake Wesley, the third of the three first-round picks, played a team-high 21 minutes and scored 7 points, while dishing out four assists.
“It was a good learning experience,” Brenham said. “I felt like we all were just overthinking. I was telling them, ‘Just play. Just play basketball, just be free.’ I felt like in the fourth quarter that’s when we started scoring more. We need to be better on the defensive end, talk more, and just be stronger with the ball on offense, but it’s a work in progress.”
The Spurs next play at home on Thursday against the Orlando Magic. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.