SAN ANTONIO (AP)—After missing all his field goals against one of the San Antonio Spurs’ in-state rivals a week ago, Michael Finley tweaked his pregame routine in hopes that he would perform a little better against the other.
It seems to have worked.
Finley scored 22 points on Sunday and the Spurs picked up their seventh straight win with an easy 109-88 victory over the Houston Rockets.
“Last week I couldn’t buy a bucket,” said Finley, who shot 0-of-7 against the Dallas Mavericks last Sunday. “Last night I made sure I got to bed early. Got up early. My wife cooked me a good breakfast. … I was ready to go.”
“He was on fire,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Finley. “We went to him quite a bit.”
The much-hyped matchup between the Southwest Division rivals turned out to be more of a dud. The Spurs had the lead for nearly the entire game and led by as many as 25 points. The Spurs shot 53 percent from the field and had 21 assists to the Rockets’ 12.
“They got us on our heels early,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. “They played extremely well offensively. We never got a handle on this game.”
Luis Scola scored a season-high 24 points for the Rockets. Tracy McGrady— most often matched up against Spurs top defender Bruce Bowen—and Rafer Alston each had 13 points after shooting a combined 9-for-38.
“I thought we did a good job of keeping them out of the paint, which is their strength,” McGrady said. “Today, they were making jumpers.”
After two wins against sub-.500 teams that were closer than the Spurs would have liked, San Antonio had no problem with the Yao Ming-less Rockets.
“It was fun to come out and compete for 48 minutes tonight,” Bowen said. “Whereas we didn’t do too good of a job in our previous two home games.”
The win finished off a tough March schedule during which the Spurs faced six back-to-backs. After a 1-6 skid earlier this month, Parker said the Spurs are starting to get into playoff shape.
Houston came into San Antonio having won two in a row and 29 of its last 33 games—highlighted by their historic 22-game streak.
But they were no match for the Spurs on Sunday. The Rockets never led after Parker tied it at 9 early in the first quarter.
McGrady was just 3-of-13 in the first half—all of his baskets came on dunks. Alston wasn’t much better. He went 3-for-11.
“I got to the paint a couple of times, finished a couple of times,” McGrady said. “I thought it was going to open everything up but I couldn’t get it going offensively.”
The Spurs, meanwhile, were shooting better than 64 percent from the field and set a season high for points in a first half.
Finley’s jumper that almost rattled out put San Antonio up 58-42 with just over 2 minutes left in the half. Parker and Finley combined for 32 points in the first half and shot a combined 13-of-15 from the field.
San Antonio had a 66-48 lead at the break.
McGrady hit just two jumpers in the third quarter and his teammates, except for Scola, weren’t picking enough of the slack to make a difference. Houston trailed 85-65 after three quarters.
The Rockets play six of their last nine games on the road. … The Spurs traded Scola’s rights to the Rockets in July and Houston bought out Scola’s contract with his Spanish team, Tau Ceramica. Scola was averaging 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds before Sunday’s game. … Rockets G Bobby Jackson got a flagrant foul with 4:38 to go in the fourth as Spurs C-F Kurt Thomas drove the lane. … Houston and San Antonio split the four-game season series.