Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Home Road Trip VanVleet lifts short-handed Rockets to perfect road trip

VanVleet lifts short-handed Rockets to perfect road trip

by Staff

The Rockets won just five of their first 29 road games of the 2023-24 NBA season. But somehow, even while significantly short-handed, they’ve won four straight away from Houston and secured a perfect 3-0 road trip courtesy of Tuesday’s 103-101 win (box score) at San Antonio.

Tari Eason (left tibia surgery) and Alperen Sengun (right ankle sprain) were both sidelined by injury and likely will be for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. Cam Whitmore (right knee sprain) was out, as well, and appears likely to miss three weeks.

Yet, with Jock Landale playing inspired ball at center in Sengun’s absence and Fred VanVleet providing his usual steadying presence at point guard, the young and improving Rockets (30-35) used a strong defensive effort to rally back from a double-digit deficit in the first half. The Spurs (14-52) remain in the Western Conference cellar.

Prized rookie Victor Wembanyama had 13 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks for the Spurs, though strong defense by Dillon Brooks helped to limit the French sensation to 5-of-12 shooting (41.7%) and 2-of-7 from 3-point range (28.6%).

For Houston, in a balanced performance that reflected a true team win, key statistical lines included:

  • Fred VanVleet: 21 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks; 7-of-16 shooting (43.8%), 3-of-9 on 3-pointers (33.3%)
  • Jalen Green: 16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists; 5-of-16 shooting (31.3%), 2-of-6 on 3-pointers (33.3%), 4-of-5 on free throws (80.0%)
  • Jabari Smith Jr.: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals; 5-of-11 shooting (45.5%), 1-of-3 on 3-pointers (33.3%), 4-of-4 on free throws
  • Dillon Brooks: 14 points, 6 fouls; 6-of-11 shooting (54.5%), 2-of-7 on 3-pointers (28.6%)
  • Jock Landale: 11 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals; 5-of-8 shooting (62.5%), 1-of-2 on 3-pointers (50.0%)

Houston has now won five of its last six games, overall. The only loss was a close one on night two of a back-to-back versus the Los Angeles Clippers, a perceived title contender, and in a game Houston led by 20 points in the first half.

Here’s our look at Tuesday’s highlights and postgame interviews, along with reaction by media members and fans. Next up is Thursday’s home game versus Washington, which kicks off a stretch with five of six games at Toyota Center. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. Central.

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