Rockets rally for 97-90 win over Spurs

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm •  Published: January 28, 2014
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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was out with a thumb injury, and then Dwight Howard got off to a slow start.

It sure looked as if it was going to be a long night for the Houston Rockets. Then everything changed in the third quarter.

Howard got back on track and a pair of role players stepped up to help Houston rally for a 97-90 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.

The Rockets trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before scoring 33 in the third to go on top. San Antonio used an 11-3 spurt to pull within two in the final minutes, but Howard and Jeremy Lin helped Houston hold on for the win.

"We just kept grinding it out," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We changed a couple of things defensively and the guys kind of dug in and got stops."

Howard had 23 points and 16 rebounds for Houston, which enjoyed a 55-39 advantage on the glass. Terrence Jones scored 21 points and Lin added 18 points and eight assists while starting in Harden's spot.

Harden, who leads the team with 23.7 points a game, was out with a bruised left thumb.

"I know I missed a lot of shots early," Howard said. "I didn't lose focus. I got a little frustrated because I wanted to make those shots, especially against Tim (Duncan). But I just tried to stick with it and show the team that no matter what I'm going to battle."

Boris Diaw scored a season-high 22 points for the Spurs, and he also had 11 rebounds. Tony Parker added 17 points and Duncan had 12 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

Houston was clinging to a 90-88 lead with less than two minutes left when Howard had a dunk and Lin made a jumper. Duncan had a layup on the other end, but Lin sunk a pair of free throws to secure the victory.

Houston has won all three meetings with the Southwest Division-leading Spurs to secure the season series for the first time since 1996-97. They have one scheduled game left on April 14 in Houston.

San Antonio's 90-point performance ended a streak of 15 straight games with at least 100 points and sent the Spurs to consecutive losses for the first time this season. The last time they were held below 100 was a 111-98 loss to Houston on Christmas Day.

The Spurs got within six on a hook shot by Diaw early in the fourth quarter. Lin then scored five quick points to extend Houston's lead to 81-70.