SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs battled rivals Houston with playoff-type intensity Saturday night, but the Rockets held on for a 112-106 win at the AT&T Center.
What looked to be a Rockets blowout win -- they led by as many as 23 in the second quarter -- took a sudden turn right before the half. As the first half was about to expire, Rockets coach Kevin McHale nonchalantly walked in front and to the side of Spurs forward Tim Duncan who was trying to inbound the ball. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was furious since McHale walked to the Spurs bench side of Duncan.
NBA referee supervisor Mike Lauerman explained that "McHale was in coaching box and not close enough to impede Duncan's in-bounds pass".
Popovich's rant earned a technical foul, but the Spurs opened the second half with much more intensity. They closed out the third quarter with a 20-8 run to cut the lead to a single point at one point.
Guard Manu Ginobili missed a 3-pointer with 22.9 left and the Spurs trailing by one, but the Spurs couldn't foul in time to stop Rockets forward Chandler Parsons' breakaway dunk.
Parsons continued his hot hand with 25 points, including going 4 of 8 from long range on Saturday.
The Spurs employed the Hack-A-Howard strategy in the final few minutes, intentionally fouling the notoriously bad free-throw shooting Rockets center Dwight Howard, but he responded by hitting 4 of 6 in that stretch.
NOTES: C Boris Diaw was a late-second starter for the Spurs, but he suffered a dislocated left middle finger in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game. There is no estimate on how much time Diaw (10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds) will miss, but he has been a key part of the powerful Spurs bench that is averaging 44.1 points a game, second most in the NBA. ... Rockets G Jeremy Lin missed his second consecutive game with a Grade I sprain and contusion of his right knee. He will miss at least two weeks. ... The NBA's two leading 3-point shooters were in this game: San Antonio G Marco Belinelli (.550) and Houston G Aaron Brooks (.533). The Spurs also boast two other top-20 3-point shooters in G Danny Green (tied for 16th at .462) and G Patty Mills (19th at .457). ... Mills has at least one steal in nine consecutive games. ... Last season, Spurs G Tony Parker averaged 24.5 points in four games against the Rockets; his season average was 20.3.