Johnson’s hot start helps Spurs beat Rockets, end skid at 11

Johnson’s hot start helps Spurs beat Rockets, end skid at 11

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Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Keldon Johnson scored 32 points and the San Antonio Spurs snapped an 11-game losing streak by beating the Houston Rockets 118-109 on Thursday night.

Johnson made his first nine shots and his first three 3-pointers in helping San Antonio win for the first time since Nov. 11.

Tre Jones had a career-high 26 points and reserves Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson added 12 points apiece.

Rookie Jabari Smith Jr. scored 23 points for Houston. Alperen Sengun added 16 points and 11 rebounds, with all five Rockets starters scoring in double figures.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich returned after missing the previous two games with what the team termed a “minor medical procedure.”

McDermott, Richardson, and Romeo Langford also returned, but the Spurs were without starters Jakob Poeltl, Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell.

Rockets coach Stephen Silas said the matchup between the Western Conference’s worst two records would be a “battle of young, inconsistent, hard-playing guys.”

Johnson proved to be the difference.

He went 5 for 5 to open the game after struggling for much of the past month. The Spurs rode Johnson’s hot start, shooting 12 for 19 in taking a 24-21 lead.

Malaki Branham sandwiched a 3-pointer between a pair of 3s by Johnson as the Spurs rallied for a 68-65 lead four minutes into the second half. San Antonio was 8 for 14 on 3-pointers in building a 14-point lead in the third quarter.

San Antonio extended their lead to 20 points midway through the final period.


Rockets: Houston opens a season-high, seven-game homestand Sunday against Milwaukee. The homestand ends Dec. 23 against Dallas. … Josh Christopher was initially ruled out but was upgraded to available prior to the game. Christopher has a bruised left foot. He had two points in five minutes. … G Daishen Nix received a technical foul with 1.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter following a Spurs turnover.

Spurs: San Antonio has played 15 of its 25 games without at least one player from its opening night starting lineup of Johnson, Jones, Vassell, Sochan and Poeltl. … The Spurs ae 1-15 when trailing after the first quarter. … C Zach Collins whiplashed and smacked the back of his head after tumbling to the court while unsuccessfully attempting to block Sengun’s one-handed dunk. Sengun’s dunk was nullified by an offensive foul, which was upheld by video review. … Rookie Blake Wesley is nearing a return after being out since Nov. 1 Grade 3 left MCL sprain. Wesley has been practicing 3-on-3 with the team.


Rockets: Host Milwaukee on Sunday.

Spurs: At Miami on Saturday.

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