Spurs 86, Rockets 77

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—After a long and successful road trip, the San Antonio Spurs remember how to win at home, too.

Tim Duncan scored 27 points, Manu Ginobili added 21 and the Spurs rallied in the second half to beat the Houston Rockets 86-77 on Tuesday night in their first game in the SBC Center this month.

The victory was San Antonio’s eighth in nine games.

“It was great to be back,” Duncan said. “To hear the crowd and know you’re the home team, it’s a lot of fun.”

The Spurs played seven straight as visitors during a trip that began Feb. 2 when an annual rodeo moved into their arena. They won six of those games, including a 94-92 win over Midwest Division leader Minnesota on Sunday.

Against the Rockets, they went on an 18-3 run, capped by a long alley-oop pass from Duncan to Ginobili, to build a 78-64 lead with 5:18 left in the game.

“You just don’t think about those shots or who is in front of you,” Ginobili said. “If you worry about who is there, you’re not going to take any shots or any chances.”

Yao Ming, coming off a career-high 41 points Sunday in a triple-overtime win over Atlanta, led the Rockets with 20 points. Steve Francis had 16, and Cuttino Mobley 11.

Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said his team lost steam in the second half and had a hard time with San Antonio’s defense.

“Just no quality shots,” he said. “They beat us on the boards and to every loose ball. … We have to learn to be intense and remain poised.”

Francis agreed that the Rockets could learn from San Antonio’s consistent execution.

“They don’t beat themselves and sometimes we beat ourselves,” he said. “That comes with time, that stick-to-itness, and we have to get that in order to beat the elite teams.”

In the fourth, the Rockets had only two field goals when Yao hit a 7-footer with 3:49 remaining. Houston made six baskets in the quarter, two of them coming after the benches were emptied.

“Defensively, we were great,” said Ginobili, who finished with five steals. “We played with the same aggressiveness as we did on the road (and) we didn’t make many mistakes.”

Hedo Turkoglu scored 17 points for San Antonio, going 4-for-6 on 3-pointers, and Tony Parker had 11. Duncan also had 13 rebounds and five blocks.

The Spurs made five of their first seven shots, including a pair of 3-pointers by Turkoglu, to take a 13-5 lead.

Houston cut that margin to three points on two layups by Yao and a finger roll by Francis before Turkoglu converted a three-point play to put San Antonio ahead 20-13.

Ginobili made a driving layup and a 3-pointer to give the Spurs their largest lead of the half at 35-21 with 9:31 left in the second.

A 3-pointer by Francis started a 17-4 run by the Rockets that pulled them to 39-38 on a breakaway dunk by Mobley at 2:58.

Francis, who had nine points in the quarter, made a 5-foot fallaway jumperand a layup in the final 30 seconds to tie the score at 44 at the halftime.

Notes

In 18 games as a starter, beginning in early January, Turkoglu is shooting 50.7 percent (34-for-67) on 3-pointers. … Houston is struggling against its Texas rivals. It has lost seven straight to San Antonio and six straight to Dallas. … The Spurs travel north to play the Mavericks onThursday.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Houston
C. Mobley C. Mobley
4-11,  11 Pts
3 Rebs, 7 Assists
 San Antonio
T. Duncan T. Duncan
10-20,  27 Pts
13 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists