NBA regular season

Christian Wood, shorthanded Rockets surprise Spurs

Christian Wood, shorthanded Rockets surprise Spurs

STEPPING UP. Spurs guard Lonnie Walker drives to the basket past Rockets center Christian Wood.

Photo by Scott Wachter/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Playing their first game after trading James Harden, the Rockets field a makeshift lineup that more than held its own against the Spurs

Christian Wood racked up 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the shorthanded Houston Rockets to a surprising 109-105 win over the host San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, January 14 (Friday, January 15, Philippine time).

The game was Houston’s first since it shipped star guard James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team trade that was finalized Thursday morning.

None of the players the Rockets received in the trade – Victor Oladipo (from the Indiana Pacers), Dante Exum (from the Cleveland Cavaliers), and Rodions Kurucs (from the Brooklyn Nets) – was in uniform on Thursday, forcing Houston to field a makeshift lineup that more than held its own.

The Rockets were also without John Wall and Eric Gordon, both due to minor leg injuries, and Danuel House Jr, sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols.

San Antonio led 99-90 after a hook shot by LaMarcus Aldridge with 4:39 to play and seemingly had finally put away the determined Rockets. 

Houston answered with three-pointers by Wood and Sterling Brown, then tied the game at 101 on another Wood trey with 2:47 left.

After a Spurs turnover, Wood canned a pair of free throws to grant the Rockets a 103-101 lead. Brown added a layup after a miss by Aldridge to put the Rockets up by 4 with 1:46 to play.

Keldon Johnson’s layup with 1:31 left was countered by a hoop from the Rockets’ Jae’Sean Tait that rebuilt the four-point lead. 

A DeMar DeRozan layup cut the advantage in half, and after a Houston turnover, DeRozan’s jumper with 0.3 seconds left went in and out.

Two free throws from Houston’s PJ Tucker in the final moments capped the scoring.

Brown scored 23 points while Tate added 13 and Tucker scored 10 for Houston. 

Johnson scored a career-high 29 points for San Antonio. Lonnie Walker IV added 16, DeRozan had 13 points, Devin Vassell hit for 12 and Aldridge had 11. Dejounte Murray contributed 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

The Rockets led 48-45 at the half after being up by as many as 11 points midway through the 2nd quarter. Wood led all players with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the half, and Brown added 10 first-half points.

Johnson paced the Spurs with 12 points in the half.

San Antonio built as much as an eight-point advantage in the 3rd period before setting for a 79-75 edge heading into the final 12 minutes.

The Spurs and Rockets will meet again in San Antonio on Saturday afternoon. –

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