NBA regular season

Rockets lean on defense to tag Wembanyama, Spurs with 17th straight loss

Reuters

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Rockets lean on defense to tag Wembanyama, Spurs with 17th straight loss

SHOOTERS SHOOT. Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) shoots the ball as San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) defends during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Houston Rockets win their 10th straight home game against the reeling San Antonio Spurs, who have dropped their 17th straight contest

Tari Eason recorded a double-double off the bench while Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. flirted with double-doubles as the Houston Rockets extended their home winning streak to 10 games with a 93-82 victory over the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Monday (Tuesday, December 12, Manila time).

Eason paired season highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds to help the Rockets steer through an ugly shooting performance. Houston shot 34.4 percent but sent the Spurs to their 17th consecutive defeat thanks in part to a plus-9 rebounding advantage and 17 turnovers by San Antonio.

Sengun posted 15 points and nine rebounds while Smith added nine points and 12 boards.

Fred VanVleet (16 points, six rebounds, five assists) hit a 3-pointer with 3:32 left in the game to give the Rockets a seven-point lead after a second-chance basket from Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama had closed the margin to 81-77. Eason then converted a breakaway dunk that pushed Houston’s lead to nine with 3:12 left in the game.

Wembanyama tallied 15 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks to lead five scorers in double figures for the Spurs. Keldon Johnson added 12 points and Devin Vassell scored 14 but missed 11 of 16 shots.

After knotting the score at 53-53 on two free throws by Johnson with 10:30 left in the third quarter, the Spurs strung together three empty possessions before the Rockets fashioned a response with back-to-back 3-pointers from Sengun and Smith. When Aaron Holiday buried a 3 at the 2:55 mark of the period, the Rockets reclaimed their double-digit margin at 69-59.

Wembanyama made his presence felt defensively in the first quarter while posting five points and grabbing five rebounds. The Rockets missed their first eight shots, a cold streak that was snapped when VanVleet canned a 3-pointer with 9:28 left in the frame.

But the Spurs did not take full advantage of the Rockets’ poor shooting, committing three turnovers before VanVleet’s triple.

San Antonio led 21-19 entering the second, a lead that vanished when the Rockets began to attack the rim. Eason, Amen Thompson and Smith all scored in the paint, with Smith bullying Wembanyama for a basket that lifted Houston to a 32-25 lead at the 9:08 mark.

The Spurs went on a 7-0 spurt and pulled within two later in the quarter, but despite a team-high 11 points from Malaki Branham, San Antonio trailed 51-47 at the break after missing 19 of 22 3-pointers in the first half. – Rappler.com

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