For the first time in 227 days, the San Antonio Spurs have dropped a regular season game at home. On Saturday night, the Houston Rockets surrendered a 23-point lead only to fight their way back and beat the Spurs 112-106 at the AT&T Center.
The Rockets quieted the San Antonio faithful in the second quarter, going on a dominant 25-6 run that saw the score become a 55-32 blowout. Yet, after Spurs coach Greg Poppovich called timeout and had his starters return to the floor, Tony Parker exploded for 10 straight points and got the Spurs right back in the game. The half ended, however, with Poppovich receiving a technical after becoming furious with Rockets coach Kevin McHale who stepped in front of Tim Duncan on an inbounds pass and did not get penalized for the action.
Poppovich’s tirade did seem to energize his squad; they forced 8 turnovers in the third quarter alone after getting just 5 in the first half. Heading into the final quarter of basketball, the Rockets had maintained just a 83-80 lead over the charging Spurs.
Reserve guard Marco Belinelli recorded the first 10 points of the fourth quarter for the Spurs and got the team out to a 90-85 lead. In the final minutes of the game, the Spurs implemented the Hack-A-Dwight strategy, but it was no avail. Howard knocked down 4-of-6 free throws and gave his team a 102-101 lead with just over 2 minutes left to play.
Manu Ginobili drained a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to give San Antonio a two-point lead, but James Harden responded with a trey of his own with under one minute to go. Belinelli missed a three-pointer with 15 ticks on the clock, and Harden iced the game with two free throws that solidified Houston’s 13th victory of the season.
Harden scored 16 out of his 31 points in the third quarter, and added 7 rebounds and 6 assists on the night. Chandler Parsons added 25 points and 5 assists, while Tony Parker paced the Spurs with 27 points, producing 8 assists as well.
The Rockets and Spurs both return to action on Monday night, where Houston will match-up against the Utah Jazz and San Antonio will host the Atlanta Hawks.