Rockets 90, Spurs 85

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—The Houston Rockets now have a winning streak in San Antonio.

Tracy McGrady scored 37 points and the Rockets beat the Spurs 90-85 Wednesday night for their second straight win in San Antonio.

“It’s important to us because we haven’t won here in a long time. This is big,” McGrady said. “It’s big to come to San Antonio and get a win.”

It’s actually only been a little over a month. The Spurs had won 17 straight home games against Houston before the Rockets’ 97-78 win in their last trip on Dec. 22. Houston’s last road win against the Spurs before that was a 103-94 victory April 20, 1997.

“You never want to be in a game that’s close with Tracy McGrady. He can rise up anywhere on the court over just about anybody who’s guarding him,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And he’s an unselfish player. If you double team him he’s going to find someone else.”

Rafer Alston had 19 points and Juwan Howard added 11 as the Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak and ended the Spurs’ three-game winning streak.

Tim Duncan also had 37 points, a season-high, and added 10 rebounds for San Antonio.

“(McGrady) makes big shots, and he especially enjoys making them against us. You have to hope he has an off night,” Duncan said.

Manu Ginobili added 15 points and Tony Parker scored 10 for the Spurs, who hit just 2 of 16 3-point attempts while the Rockets went 6-of-15 from behind the arc.

“We make a run and we get the shot clock down and it was either Luther Head or Rafer (Alston) who hit a big 3 for them three or four steps behind the line,” Duncan said.

Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said his team was plagued by a different problem: turnovers. The Spurs scored 19 points off 21 turnovers by the Rockets, and Houston had eight points off San Antonio’s 11 turnovers.

“It’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be poise. We had issues with turnovers, but we made enough plays to win,” Van Gundy said. “I wouldn’t say we have an edge. We’ve won twice.”

Houston built a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and led by double digits with about 3 1/2 minutes left, but San Antonio—with Duncan leading the way— pulled within two.

“I knew my shot was going to be there,” Duncan said. “I had to make a couple of jump shots to loosen them up a little bit. Once I made a couple of jump shots early it was easier to get some stuff done in the post.”

“Duncan was fabulous,” Van Gundy said. “I thought our guys did as good a job as they could. It just shows you how good he is.”

McGrady made a 3-point play with under a minute left. Ginobili answered with a basket and then fouled Alston, who sank both his shots to give Houston a five-point cushion with less than 10 seconds left.

“I thought we played with great intensity and physicality the last 6 minutes of the game when we were down 10,” Popovich said. “The first three quarters they played that same way more than we did. In the end they ground the game out better than we did.”

Houston’s 8-0 run toward the end of the first quarter kept them within five of the Spurs, who took a 21-16 lead into the second.

The Spurs had a 37-36 lead at halftime. They were led by Duncan, who had 12 points including a last-second basket in the second quarter to give San Antonio the lead. McGrady led the Rockets with 13 at the half.

The teams largely traded baskets in the third and were tied six times. Duncan had 12 points in the quarter.

McGrady also had 12, including three made free throws when he was fouled attempting a 3-pointer, in the third as the Rockets took a 61-58 lead.

Houston pushed its lead to 10 with 9:08 to go in the fourth on Shane Battier’s four-point play. He made a 3 from the corner as he was fouled, then hit his shot from the line.

The Spurs pulled within eight before McGrady scored seven points for the Rockets to put them up 81-68 with 4:47 to go.

Notes

The Spurs have now lost more games at home this season (eight) than they did in all of last season while going 34-7. … The NBA announced a new NBADL team will play in Hidalgo, Texas, next season. Hidalgo is on the Texas-Mexico border about 250 miles south of San Antonio. … The Spurs next host Memphis on Friday. The Rockets will host Portland. … The Spurs beat the Rockets in Houston on Nov. 14, 92-84. … The Rockets are 10-5 since Yao Ming broke a bone under his right knee in December. … The Rockets host the Spurs on March 3.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Houston
T. McGrady T. McGrady
14-24,  37 Pts
8 Rebs, 3 Assists
 San Antonio
T. Duncan T. Duncan
15-28,  37 Pts
10 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
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Wednesday, Jan 24