SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Houston is still "figuring it out" a month into the season and the Rockets did not gain any clarity Saturday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 10 rebounds and San Antonio held on to beat Houston 96-89 while holding the Rockets to 28 percent shooting in the final quarter.
After setting a franchise record for victories in finishing 65-17 last season, the Rockets have already dropped seven games as their offense continues to sputter despite having reigning MVP James Harden and Chris Paul.
Houston committed just eight turnovers against San Antonio but shot 33 percent from the field and 22 percent on 3-pointers in dropping their second straight.
"If I knew, I would tell you," Paul said of the reasons for the team's offensive woes. "I don't know. I think what the coach always says, the law of averages will kick in at some point. So, I am expecting us to get unbelievably hot at some point."
Paul, who said the team is trying to figure out changing lineups, was held to 13 points on 4-for-13 shooting. James Harden had 25 points to lead Houston and Eric Gordon added 23.
The Rockets' arrival couldn't have come at a better time for the Spurs, who struggled defensively in dropping their previous two games.
San Antonio overcame 15 turnovers, including eight in the second quarter.
The Spurs closed on an 8-2 run in the final four minutes to pull away for the win. The run was sparked by Derrick White's lone 3-pointer that gave them an 89-85 lead.
"My teammates are confident in me, which has taught me to be confident," said White, who tied a career high with 14 points and set a career high with eight assists.
DeMar DeRozan had a season-low 13 points, but added 11 rebounds in 39 minutes as San Antonio snapped its two-game skid.
The Rockets were without Carmelo Anthony, who missed the game due to an undisclosed illness amid reports he is speaking to the team about his future with the franchise.
"I'm sure you can address that with Daryl (Morey, Houston general manager)," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I'm trying to coach a game. I'm trying to win a game."
Rockets: Houston had won three straight prior to dropping its second straight. ... In addition to Anthony, the Rockets had five other players out with injuries or illness in addition, including Nene (strained right calf) and Michael Carter-Williams (illness). ... F Gerald Green was upset after he tumbled over Quincy Pondexter, who dove for a loose ball at his feet. Green remained on the court for a few seconds and then remained in the backcourt attempting to walk off a limp.
Spurs: Bryn Forbes finished with 13 points. Forbes has scored double figures in nine of 11 games this season. The only other Spurs player to top that in his first three seasons was Tim Duncan, who had 10 in 1998. ... White's previous career high was two assists, which he accomplished twice in his rookie season. ... Rookie C Chimezie Metu played a season high 12 minutes with Pau Gasol and Jakob Poeltl out. Metu's previous high was seven minutes.
YOU ARE APPRECIATED
Popovich, who served five years of active duty in the United States Air Force, was happy the Spurs celebrated "Military Appreciation Night" on Saturday.
"It's always great to honor the military because obviously they do a lot more important work than most of us do," Popovich said. "The more that they know we appreciate it the better, because a lot of the trite things that get done get pretty old, even to them. You know how many times when people say, 'We'll never forget you' and 'Thank you for your service,' and all that sort of thing and everybody moves on and forgets. To establish a whole evening like that across the whole league it's very appropriate and very deserved."
BATTLING A BUG
With six players out against San Antonio, D'Antoni said the team is battling sickness and not injuries.
"Some guys got sniffles and everything else, but it is flu season," D'Antoni said.
Rockets: Host Indiana on Sunday night.
Spurs: At Sacramento on Monday night.
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