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Rockets-Spurs Preview

AP - Sports

A miserable defensive performance slowed the Houston Rockets' momentum. A visit to the San Antonio Spurs might not help them regain it.

The Rockets will try to win the season series with their in-state rivals for the first time since 1996-97 by snapping a four-game losing streak in San Antonio, where the Spurs have lost once this season.

Houston (12-9) gave up a franchise-worst 42 points in one quarter Monday during a 120-108 home defeat to Minnesota. The Rockets allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 58.1 percent, the best by an opponent this season, in losing for the second time in 11 games.

The defeat spoiled the return of leading scorer Kevin Martin from a two-game absence because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Martin finished with a team-best 29 points and was the only Houston player to score more than 13.

"It was just like we were sitting there and we could never find any kind of rhythm defensively," coach Kevin McHale said. "We never got many consecutive stops. We never really dug in and got things."

Houston has allowed San Antonio (13-9) to top 100 points in nine of the last 10 meetings, but the Rockets have been competitive in the three this season. They won both home games and lost 101-95 in overtime during their previous visit to the AT&T Center on Jan. 11.

Houston missed 8 of 10 shots in the extra period to fall for the seventh time in its first 10 games. The Rockets haven't suffered consecutive defeats since a four-game skid Jan. 3-7 but will face a Spurs team that's 10-1 at home.

"We've got to go down there and win," McHale said. "We've got seven of our next eight on the road, and we have to establish ourselves. More than anything else, we've got to get back to playing together as a team."

San Antonio avoided a season-high third straight defeat Monday, as reserve Matt Bonner hit five 3-pointers in an 83-73 win in Memphis.

"After (a 101-100 overtime loss at Dallas on Sunday), I was really disappointed," forward Tim Duncan said. "I think a lot of us wanted to come in here and give a much better effort."

The Spurs had five players in double figures Monday to offset another difficult night for Tony Parker. The point guard missed 7 of 9 shots while scoring five points, and he's 4 for 20 from the field over the past two games.

Parker had a season-high 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting during the home win over the Rockets, and he's averaged a team-best 21.3 in the three meetings. He has topped 20 points in five of his last six home matchups with Houston.

Martin has averaged 25.8 points over his last five games against the Spurs but hasn't topped 20 points in either of his past two visits to the AT&T Center, shooting a combined 39.3 percent.

Houston has lost in 31 of its past 37 visits to San Antonio, last winning 116-109 on Jan. 22, 2010.

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