Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason have dazzling debuts as Rockets blast Spurs

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In their first appearances at Toyota Center, newly drafted rookie forwards Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason were outstanding in Sunday night’s preseason opener as the Houston Rockets crushed the visiting San Antonio Spurs, 134-96 (box score).

Smith, drafted at No. 3 overall in the 2022 first round out of Auburn, started and scored 21 points in 24 minutes on 8-of-15 shooting (53.8%), including 5-of-8 (62.5%) from 3-point range. The 6-foot-11 forward also grabbed 8 rebounds in that time. Meanwhile, Eason — drafted at No. 17 overall out of LSU — added 21 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench, shooting 9-of-13 (69.2%).

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But, as indicated by the 38-point margin, Smith and Eason had plenty of help in the exhibition opener for both teams.

Other Sunday standouts for the Rockets included:

  • Alperen Sengun: 13 points, 5-of-6 shooting (83.3%), 5 rebounds, 3 assists in 20 minutes

  • Eric Gordon: 13 points, 3-of-5 on 3-pointers (60.0%), 2 assists in 16 minutes

  • Josh Christopher: 15 points, 6-of-9 shooting (66.7%), 3-of-4 on 3-pointers (75.0%), 4 rebounds, 4 assists in 21 minutes

Houston’s starting backcourt of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. struggled to shoot against the Spurs, making just 6-of-21 shots (28.6%), combined. However, the Rockets were a team-high +24 and +23, respectively, in the minutes that Green and Porter played.

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San Antonio was led by veteran big man Jakob Poeltl, who had 9 points (57.1% FG), 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals in 17 minutes. Devin Vassell scored a team-high 13 points but shot just 4-of-13 from the field (30.8%) and 1-of-7 on 3-pointers (14.3%).

Scroll on for postgame interviews and analysis. The Rockets (1-0) will resume their preseason schedule on Friday at home versus Toronto, while the Spurs (0-1) host Orlando on Thursday.


Interviews and Analysis

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire

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