The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs each faced the same fate in their season-opener: a disappointing loss. The Rockets fell to the Orlando Magic and the Spurs fell to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.
In the Spurs' case, they fell in front of a national audience and an avalanche of prominent NBA reporters, as the masses gathered to see the debut of Victor Wembanyama, who is universally regarded as the best prospect since LeBron James.
Through the first three quarters, Wembanyama seemed to be slated for a massive disappointment, as he had 6 points entering the fourth quarter. The French sensation flipped the switch in the fourth, however, as he had 9 points in the final period, finishing with 15 points on the night on 6-of-9 from the field, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, five turnovers, and five fouls.
At many times, Mavs rookie big man Dereck Lively looked like the better rookie, as he finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 7-of-8 shooting, along with a victory.
Wemby and the Spurs will have an opportunity to regroup against the Rockets on Friday. And if you recall, Wemby didn't exactly have the best game when he last faced Houston, as he finished with 15 points on 3-for-10 shooting, along with two turnovers in a little over 20 minutes of game play - a rather lackluster performance for a player as regarded as Wembanyama.
Houston Rockets coach Ime Udoka gives Spurs bulletin material
In Wednesday's post-game presser, Rockets coach Ime Udoka, a discipline of Spurs' legendary coach Gregg Popovich, was asked about Wembanyama and the Rockets' upcoming matchup against San Antonio and he provided the Spurs with bulletin board material, as he essentially stated that he wasn't worried about the rookie phenom.
"We were good on him last game.
We have some guys that sat out. They'll get a chance to guard him as well.
So, we're not really concerned with him."
Udoka previously revealed the secret sauce to limiting Wembanyama, which most teams won't be able to do unless they have depth at the wing position.
Speaking of wings, Rockets defensive ace Dillon Brooks was asked about the most effective way to contain Wemby and he gave a very similar response to Udoka's answer during the preseason.
"Crowd [his] space. Make every shot difficult. And try to play physical within the rules of the game."
Brooks, an All-Defensive forward in 2022-23, would seem to know a thing or two about defense. And Udoka was hired, in part, because of his defensive expertise, even though that wasn't noticeable in Wednesday's opener against the Orlando Magic.
The good thing is that there won't be much lag time in between the match-up, so we'll be able to put Udoka and Brooks' theories to the test on Friday.