Spurs third quarter rally snaps 11-game losing streak

San Antonio defeats Houston 118-109

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

What’s new?

San Antonio – A barrage of threes in the third quarter guided the Spurs to a 118-109 victory Thursday evening at the AT&T Center.

Tre Jones set a new career-high of 26 points against the Rockets. Jones had been averaging 12.1 points per game yet stepped up due to teammate Devin Vassell sitting out with a knee injury.

“I just tried to do everything I can to help this team win,” Jones said. “Obviously, we were down a bunch of guys still, and so, it made me be more aggressive because guys are out, so I took on a bigger load.”

Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson were available tonight after missing the last several games due to separate injuries. The two had 12 points each, along with both making three three-pointers.

How it happened

Neither team led by more than five points in the first half. Keldon Johnson made his first nine shots before finishing the half 9 of 11. Johnson finished with a game-high 32 points.

“I just knew I had to come out and be aggressive and lead the team,” Johnson said. 

Houston led 29-24 after the first quarter before an 8-point run by Tre Jones gave the Spurs a 31-30 lead. 

Jones’ 17 points only trailed teammate Johnson’s 19 points. Rockets guard Jalen Green drilled a 26-foot three-pointer to end the half to give the Rockets a 54-51 lead.

Courtesy to NBAE/Michael Gonzalez

Houston led 61-54 early in the third quarter, its largest lead in the game. San Antonio’s three-point success in the third quarter helped the Spurs go from trailing by 7 points to leading by as many as 14 points. 

The Spurs made four straight threes in the 14-2 scoring run. Doug McDermott made his first baskets in the third quarter, making back-to-back threes in his first game after missing the previous two due to an ankle injury. 

Going 8 of 14 from beyond the arc in the third pushed the Spurs into the fourth up 90-77.

San Antonio piled onto their lead, winning by as many as 20 in the final frame. The Spurs jumped from shooting 10 percent from three to 36.1 percent, guiding the team to their first victory since November 11.

“My teammates played great. Romeo (Langford) played great, Tre (Jones) played great, Malaki (Branham) played great, Charles (Bassey), Zach (Collins), it was definitely a team effort tonight,” Johnson said. “I can’t take all the joy; they put me in good situations to be successful.” 

Coach’s thoughts

“The last couple days we spent working on just that [defense], and I think the message got across to these guys,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It carried over from two days of practice to the game. I think losing helps you gain that focus properly.”

What’s next?

San Antonio will try to keep their winning momentum rolling as they take on Miami. The Spurs and Heat will tip off at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Miami.