Spurs Defuse Rockets
By Ashley Moreno,
3:59PM, Tue. Apr. 1, 2008
I made the trek to San Antonio for the Rockets/Spurs game this past Sunday. It surprised me that the franchise chose to replace their long-loved, time-out-distraction personality Crazy Lou with Big Stan. I mean, seriously, how do you get fired from selecting which nosebleed row gets to fly the Club 200 “Spirit Section” banner? Did he forget to remind spectators not to bet on the Jumbotron Dot Races one too many times? Either way, I hope he finds his demotion to the TJ Maxx of the basketball world hospitable – wherever it is. (Let’s say Dallas.)
Evidently we’ve had Big Stan for a while now. I'm not sure how I didn’t notice before. I guess I usually have four quarters of basketball to watch. Not this time. In fact, it took Jacque Vaughn closing the first half with an at-the-buzzer fadeaway just to pull me away from my section's game of telephone – the UT vs. Memphis edition.
In late February, when the Rockets announced that Yao Ming would be out for the season, few would have guessed the team would pull off March victories against the now top-seeded Jazz and the third-seeded Lakers – let alone 22 straight wins. But with rookie Luis Scola more than pulling his weight, and Tracy McGrady averaging 21.6 points per game, it looked like the Rockets would offer the Spurs some real competition. Everyone expected an exciting game. So in a turn a Spurs fan like myself should only call bittersweet, the now second-seeded Spurs blew out the now sixth-seeded Rockets for their seventh straight win.
The game started out well for S.A., with the Spurs up 26 to 21 with a little under three minutes left in the first quarter and both teams shooting better than 50% from the field. But somewhere in the first half, during which a confused Scola tipped in a Spurs’ rebound, Houston took a dark turn. Best I can tell, he forgot he got traded, and Houston never recovered. The Rockets did effectively keep the Spurs out of the lane, but the Spurs simply responded with more outside shots. Meanwhile, Houston couldn’t sink anything. By the fourth quarter they were shooting just 36.9% to the Spurs 52.2%. The game ended in a 109-88 blowout with Tim Duncan sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
Both Houston and San Antonio play again tonight. Houston will take on the Sacramento Kings in California, and the Spurs will play Golden State at home. With the Western Conference’s seedings still anyone’s guess, everyone needs a win tonight.