Spurs 114, Rockets 92

James Harden received a familiar welcome to San Antonio, but

little else resembled his previous trip to the River City.

Tony Parker had 17 points and seven assists, and the San Antonio

Spurs never trailed in a 114-92 victory over the Houston Rockets on

Friday night.

The Spurs had six players score in double figures while matching

their season high with 33 assists. San Antonio (16-4) led by as

many as 33 points and never by less than 21 in the final

quarter.

”They’re a very good team,” Harden said, ”especially at home.

They did a good job at moving the ball and we knew they were going

to pass the ball. It was just a matter of us locking down and

trying to stay on one page defensively.”

It was Harden’s first game in San Antonio since helping the

Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Spurs last season in the Western

Conference finals. Harden was traded by the Thunder to the Rockets

before the start of this season.

San Antonio fans certainly remembered Harden, who was booed

heartily during pregame introductions and every time he shot a free

throw.

While Harden had 29 points and five assists to lead Houston, he

couldn’t help the Rockets walk away with a win against the

well-balanced Spurs.

Tiago Splitter added 15 points and Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili,

Patty Mills and Tim Duncan each scored 12. Duncan also had a

game-high 12 rebounds. Every active San Antonio player scored and

played at least 8 minutes.

”We weren’t as consistent as we’d like to be, but we had a

really good pace offensively and I got to play a lot of guys,”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Parker keyed a quick start, scoring eight points and picking up

two assists as San Antonio took a 10-point lead in the first 5

minutes.

Jeremy Lin had difficulty keeping up with Parker, who raced by

him for three layups in scoring eight of the Spurs’ first 10

points. Parker also made a pair of free throws during the run after

being fouled by Lin on a layup attempt.

”You’re not really going to take away everything just because

something’s got to give,” Lin said. ”They move the ball well. The

speed in which they move their offense and the speed in which they

make decisions makes it really hard (to defend).”

Lin finished with four points, four assists and two

turnovers.

Harden kept the Rockets in contention early, scoring 13 points

in the first quarter after being shut out in the opening 4 minutes.

His 3-pointer pulled Houston to 14-13, but the Rockets never tied

it.

Harden fueled another rally in the second half, scoring nine

points to help Houston pull to 66-58 with 7:27 left in the third

quarter.

The Spurs responded with a 15-0 run following a vocal timeout by

Popovich. San Antonio held the Rockets scoreless for 4 minutes

during the run to essentially seal the game.

”It was important,” Neal said. ”Coach Pop kind of rattled the

cage a little bit with that timeout.”

San Antonio opened a 103-70 lead with 6:48 left on an 8-foot

jumper by DeJuan Blair. The Rockets closed the game on a 22-11 run,

but both teams had already pulled their starters midway through the

period.

Matt Bonner did give the fans and the Spurs’ bench something to

cheer about in the final minutes, driving baseline for a

two-handed, rim-hanging dunk that drew cheers, laughter and shouts

of excitement from his teammates.

”Of the NBA, it’s like top 10, easy,” Duncan said about where

Bonner’s dunk ranks historically. ”World? Fifteen, maybe. Top

15.”

The dunk capped a needed blowout win for the Spurs, who play at

Charlotte on Saturday night to open a four-game road trip.

”It was great for them to keep it that way,” Duncan said.

”Obviously with the game tomorrow, and this long flight tonight,

we wanted to have as much rest as possible and not take Charlotte

lightly. It was good to keep our minutes down, good to give a lot

of guys a lot of minutes and spread it around as much as possible.

Four games in five nights? We need as much rest as possible.”

NOTES: Neal set a career high with his eighth start of the

season. … Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson (broken right pinkie)

and F Kawhi Leonard (left knee) both sat out with injuries. …

Duncan had the 742nd double-double of his career. … Houston has

lost 10 straight road games against Southwest Division opponents

since a 91-89 victory at New Orleans on Feb. 27, 2011. …

Houston’s Chandler Parsons went 0 for 4 from 3-point range,

snapping his streak of making at least one 3 at 23 games in a

row.