EditorsNote: corrects spelling of Jae’Sean Tate in 6th graf, tweaked 12th graf
Christian Wood racked up 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the short-handed Houston Rockets to a surprising 109-105 win over the host San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
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.
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 3-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 four with 1:46 to play.
Keldon Johnson’s layup with 1:31 left was countered by a hoop from the Rockets’ Jae’Sean Tate 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 P.J. Tucker in the final moments capped the scoring.
Brown scored 23 points while Tate added 13 and P.J. Tucker scored 10 for Houston. 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.
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, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Rockets led 48-45 at the half after being up by as many as 11 points midway through the second 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 third period before settling for a 79-75 edge heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Spurs and Rockets will meet again in San Antonio on Saturday afternoon.
--Field Level Media