Houston’s ‘New Sheriff’ Message To Spurs Triggers Season Series

VIDEO: James Harden has 31 points as Rockets hand Spurs first home loss

Flipping about on League Pass, switching back to the Houston-at-San Antonio game after tarrying too long elsewhere, the scene did not look good. Clearly, it was late, the game in its final stages, and there on the court lay Houston’s Chandler Parsons. Hands to his head, flat on his back, the Rockets forward seemed to be anguishing a defeat or at least a decisive play in the dwindling seconds that had tipped the night in San Antonio’s favor…

Then the replay popped onto the screen. And there was Parsons, fending off back spasms, catching an outlet pass, bursting behind the Spurs defense and slamming home a dunk that made it 110-106 with 16 seconds left before wincing to the floor in more pain.

Just another one of those agony-of-victory shots, as it turned out.

To which those of us at Hang Time HQ say: More, please.

Who among us wouldn’t welcome three more games very much like the one Saturday night in San Antonio, what with its dueling runs, its high-octane scoring and its last-minute drama, all played out against the backdrop of the teams’ I-10 rivalry and clash of life cycles (aging Spurs, building Rockets)? Three more in the regular season – including a Christmas Day treat – followed by, oh, seven at some point in the Western Conference playoffs.

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

The game Saturday also featured a tried-and-abandoned hack-a-Howard tactic – Dwight Howard made his final four free throws, thwarting that hope for San Antonio – and a little comic relief when Houston coach Kevin McHale got unusually close to Tim Duncan on an inbounds situation late in the first half.

While McHale hovered, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich thought it was anything but comic, picking up a technical foul for protesting too vociferously to referee Tom Washington. “I was in the coach’s box,” McHale said later, though he added: “I probably should’ve gone and sat my big [butt] on the other side.”

The Spurs suffered their first home loss this season. They also had a seven-game home winning streak over Houston snapped. The Rockets have won five in a row, but this one was the most impressive, coming at the end of a back-to-back against an opponent that has owned them.

There was a lot of talk afterward in the Houston locker room about how, last season, this game would have slipped away. Said James Harden, who had 31 points and rained in a 3-pointer to tie at 106: ”Last year we probably would have caved in. They would have beaten us by a lot. So, this year the improvement we’ve adjusted to has been tremendous.”

Houston’s 54-33 edge on the boards had a lot to do with it too. Forward Terrence Jones grabbed 16 and was a plus-11 in not quite 31 minuntes, while Howard grabbed 11. The Rockets turned their 12-4 advantage in offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance field goal attempts to the Spurs’ four.

There was some difference of opinion in Houston’s locker room afterward about Tony Parker launching 27 of San Antonio’s shots, en route to his 27 points. Harden felt it minimized the damage Parker could do as a playmaker and ultimately hurt his team’s 3-point shooters (9 of 26). But Howard wasn’t thrilled about San Antonio’s most dangerous scorer getting so many opportunities.

The best part is, we get three more chances to see which works best, and maybe a bunch beyond that come springtime.


  1. bigboyfly713 says:

    What’s with the Houston haters? Don’t be mad and stop hating on Dwight. They still getting those wins with a few new players and almost new rotation every game.

    • BH says:

      Agree. Rockets have a really good team this year, things are coming together now and they are winning like it was meant to be. I just think that some early adjustments cost them 2 or 3 losses

    • 36yrfan says:

      ….yeah, I imagine if the ‘coach’ fiddles with that lineup long enough, a starting 5 will emerge……or not….poor guy hasn’t a clue…..lol

  2. asd says:

    All this hype about a regular season game, LOL San Antonio is by far a better team than houston anyways.

  3. Max says:

    Have they not experimented with Twin Towers rockets would be leading the league now…

  4. jake s. says:

    I love to watch teams like Miami, Oklahoma City, Indiana, and Houston play… but if you had to pick two, you would probably exclude Houston.

  5. Michael says:

    For Rockets it’s a HUGE deal to win at least one game against the Spurs. For Spurs a game with Rockets is not a big deal. Spurs fans are concerned about playing Miami or Indiana in June.

  6. PC3 for twitter @swhtown20 says:

    Also something that needs 2 be noted the Rockets beat the Spurs on their floor thats impressive!!!!!!!! If your team is going 2 win the championship they will have 2 beat teams on the road. So far the Rockets are still working out the kinks & wont see the Rockets finish product unitl after the AllStar break…But the Rockets so far have a 5-3 record on the road so far=Rings w/ wins 2 the Spurs, Knicks, & PTB Impressive

  7. Willy Spurd says:

    Good point about the coach. You can see on the replay that he had every intention in interfering with the play which is completely wrong, he should be fined, same as the Coca Cola Kidd. This also happens when opposing players are near the 3 shooters along the base line. You will see benched players yelling at the shooter, very close, actually leaning into the court sometimes. Benches should be given technical fouls for this type of involvement. The rivalry is good and it got better because of McHales move and Pops actions!

  8. nastybrawler says:

    rockets are happy to beat the reigning king of the West…
    don’t get so pump up, Spurs will crash you next time…
    take note of that!!!

  9. Felix says:

    Spurs will come back and get them again. Its not like the Rockets are going anywhere this year.

  10. Bruce says:

    New sheriff?? Please its only 1 game that they barely managed to best the Spurs. Spurs been dominating teams that the Rockets lost to ( like both LA teams). Tony Parker won’t have such a terrible FG% next time.

  11. Spurs Fan says:

    The spurs did not come out with the right energy in the first half, it’s like Pop said after the game, it was a good lesson for the spurs this early in the season, we will be back. We can be dominant if we can play with the right energy for 48 minutes. Can’t wait to see how this season series plays out.

  12. luckyfri says:

    easy guys, the spurs do their thing since 15 years. the got beaten in the last year finals and whatever happened to them they always stayed easy. You really think the spurs are impressed because they lost a regurlar season game against a maybe contender.

  13. fabrice says:

    djoke howard

  14. Boston fan says:

    Yes a mensage…Rockets cant go to the CSF…If they get thunder…Weestbrook and durant ll destroy then,sas same thing..Golden state ll be a good fight..but 4-2 max.They are NOT contender…i got mad when i see a artigue like that…disrespectfull to san antonio…4 titles my body…4 titles..dont forged Tin Duncan-the best PF ever..Dwight?the best joke ever

    • Tony Moua says:

      Rockets have every right to claim their achievements you idiot. Plus you don’t even know how to spell and your grammer is that of a 1st grader.

      • 36yrfan says:

        ….lol….what achievements ? They won a regular season game on the road?? uhhhhh……………. what is their record again? Please…… maybe they should wait until they win the division or something meaningful before they pat themselves on the back ……. just a thought rocketfan…..

    • Jimi says:

      If you think that this game means nothing then you are kidding yourself. Both teams played with full intensity.

    • sunshine says:

      Can some please translate this mess?

  15. PC3 on twitter @SwHTown20 says:

    Coach McHale & Rocket players sent a message to the king of the hill of the Western Conference & SW Divison the Spurs. I know its early but it looks like the Rockets & every1 else in the West Conference they are dominating on both ends..Whos gonna stop Houston

    • Kobe Fan says:

      Lakers. When Kobe dunk on Dwight Howard again.

    • 36yrfan says:

      ‘coach’ Frankenstein got in Front of the inbounding player 3 times to argue with the ref….should’ve got a tech…..And lame refs(same ones) ignored when Spurs were fouling ‘clueless’ to put him in hell ( the free throw line ) once again and waited a second or two to call it on beard’s defender….what a joke, now they get to choose which foul they want to call !!…… see you on x-mas night !!

  16. okc2014 says:

    I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Spurs got beat by the Rockets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!