The Rockets could either fight or fold. They chose the former
Rockets center Dwight Howard snagged a pair of critical offensive
rebounds late in the fourth quarter to help Houston complete a 97-90
comeback victory at Toyota Center.
Howard corralled guard Aaron Brooks' errant 3-pointer and added a
putback dunk to double the Rockets' lead to 92-88 with 1:28
remaining. And, after missing a pair of free throws at the 1:07
mark, Howard tipped the offensive rebound out to guard Patrick
Beverly, who initiated a reset that yielded a bank shot by guard
Jeremy Lin with 48.9 seconds left.
Those tough, physical plays were emblematic of the Rockets' effort
in the face of a bruising defensive performance by the shorthanded
"The last two games, I wouldn't say we quit, but when teams hit us
we didn't hit back like we needed to," Howard said. "I was telling
the guys we've got to fight no matter what. We've got to push, hit,
do whatever we've got to do, and once we start doing that on a daily
basis referees will start taking account of it knowing that this is
how we're going to play."
Howard finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds, overcoming a
frustrating offensive effort that included missing 10 of 15 shots.
Lin, substituting for the injured James Harden, paired 18 points
with eight assists while forward Terrence Jones added 21 points and
The Spurs (33-12) led 46-39 at halftime but saw that lead evaporate
quickly as the Rockets (30-17) outscored San Antonio 33-18 in the
third quarter. Houston improved to 3-0 against San Antonio this
season and snapped the Spurs' streak of 15 consecutive 100-point
"The start of the third quarter hurt us," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said. "We came out and gave up a three right off the bat and then
made a mental error defensively. They made a steal and it got them
Forward Boris Diaw paced the Spurs with a season-high 22 points and
11 rebounds. Center Tim Duncan added 12 points and 14 rebounds, but
he totaled just two points and three rebounds after halftime.
[to top of second column]
The Spurs blitzed the Rockets from the opening tip, converting their
opening five shot attempts while extending to a 13-4 lead. Duncan
added a pair of layups on consecutive possessions midway through the
period to build the cushion to 17-6 and inspire Rockets coach Kevin
McHale to quickly call his second timeout of the quarter.
It wasn't until Duncan gave the Spurs a 21-6 lead with a baseline
slam dunk that Houston stirred from its stupor. Forward Donatas
Motiejunas drilled a 3-pointer before Jones carried the Rockets the
rest of the period, closing with 10 points as the other starters
Houston managed to make it to halftime trailing by only seven
points, even though Howard started 0-for-8 from the floor and
forward Chandler Parsons closed the half scoreless on 0-for-6
shooting. Jones and Lin essentially carried the offensive load while
the Spurs cooled by missing open perimeter looks and shooting
8-for-22 in the second.
"We were switching too much (defensively)," McHale said. "We kept
chasing them and chasing them and chasing them too much. They were
getting in our paint. We changed a couple of things defensively and
the guys dug in and got stops."
Not only did the Spurs miss 17 of 23 treys, they were whipped on the
boards, surrendering a minus-16 margin that kept Houston in control.
"That hurt us bad obviously," Duncan said. "They got some big ones
down the stretch."
NOTES: Spurs G Manu Ginobili left the game with tightness in his
left hamstring and was to be evaluated later. He will not play
Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls. ... Rockets G James
Harden missed his seventh game this season, sidelined this time with
a bruised left thumb suffered Saturday night against the Memphis
Grizzlies. Harden has performed exceptionally against the Spurs
since joining Houston prior to last season. He has averaged 30
points on 60.7 percent shooting, plus six rebounds and six assists,
over five games. ... The Spurs were without G/F Danny Green
(fractured left hand), F Kawhi Leonard (fractured right hand) and C
Tiago Splitter (sprained right shoulder). ... The next win for the
Spurs' Big Three of Tim Duncan, Ginobili and Tony Parker will be
their 485th, matching the Los Angeles Lakers' trio of Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Magic Johnson for second all-time.
The Boston Celtics' trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert
Parish won 540 games.
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