SAN ANTONIO (AP) With the Spurs on the brink of getting blown out, Tim Duncan took over and carried them to victory.
The Rockets led by 18 points in the third quarter and looked poised to put the game away before Duncan led the Spurs on an 11-2 run. When he wasn't barking directions to his younger teammates, Duncan was burying running hooks in the lane. Duncan scored 16 points in the quarter, after which the Spurs trailed only 71-67.
''Tim Duncan, he went to the fountain of youth or something yesterday,'' Neal said. ''Cause today he looked phenomenal. Tim's one of our leaders, everybody knows that; we just kind of fed off of him tonight.''
The Spurs took their first lead since the first quarter on Danny Green's 3-pointer with 7 minutes left in the game - a shot that brought his former coach Roy Williams, in attendance to support Green, to his feet. Both teams traded baskets before the Spurs took the lead for good on Neal's runner with 2 minutes left. San Antonio closed the game on an 8-0 run.
''Timmy (Duncan) and Tony (Parker) did a great job of leading the way for the whole group and everybody else followed and they never gave in,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ''Timmy and Tony didn't allow them to. They did a fantastic team job tonight.''
The Spurs (14-9) have won two straight and improved to 11-1 at home. Gary Neal had 15 for San Antonio, which split the four-game season series with the Rockets (12-10), who have lost two straight.
Kevin Martin scored 29 points to lead Houston but went 1 for 6 in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee each added 15, and Patrick Patterson had 10.
Duncan and Parker, who had six points and three assists in the fourth quarter, got plenty of help from Green. The athletic forward played most of the second half after going 0 for 4 from the field in the first half. His defense was key to Martin's second-half struggles.
''A guy like that, once he gets going, you've got to throw different things at him, try to cool down his rhythm,'' Green said. ''We had different guys guarding him. He's very hard to guard cause because he can make shots and he also knows how to use his body to draw fouls. You have to be careful being physical with him. When he catches it, I just tried to be annoying so he doesn't get in rhythm and get comfortable to make shots.''
It was a tactic that worked, as Martin started missing even open jumpers late in the game. Rockets coach Kevin McHale, though, said sloppy play also had plenty to do with the loss Houston committed 20 turnovers.
''We had too many turnovers,'' McHale said. ''We turned it over and we fed into that (comeback) a little bit. They turned it up a little, and we had to respond with more ball movement and more hard drives. They made some shots and made some things happen.''
Duncan, as so often has been the case, was key to comeback. After Martin's pull-up jumper put Houston up 58-40 with 10:25 left in the third quarter, Duncan responded with a short fadeaway jumper . He would score six straight points later in the quarter to pull San Antonio within three.
''I just tried to be aggressive, tried to get into the paint,'' Duncan said. ''They were staying locked up with our shooters. They weren't double teaming and I got a chance to attack a little more and get to the paint and make some shots, and draw some fouls.''
Notes: Williams coached Green at North Carolina from 2005-2009. . After starting, Spurs G Kawhi Leonard didn't play in the second half. . The Spurs have two more home games before going on the road for nine straight games. The Rockets will play six of their next seven games on the road. ... The Spurs have won 32 of their last 38 home games against the Rockets.
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- Tim Duncan
- Houston Rockets
- San Antonio Spurs
- San Antonio
- the Spurs
- Tony Parker