The Houston Rockets don’t have much margin for error down the
stretch if they hope to make the playoffs, but at least they have
the benefit of playing 11 of their final 16 at the Toyota
Two of those games, however, are against the San Antonio
With the status of Luis Scola’s left knee up in the air, the
Rockets kick off a season-high six-game homestand Saturday night
against the league-best Spurs.
Houston (33-33) has won 11 of 16 since Feb. 2, but remains in
11th place in the Western Conference – the same spot it was when it
The Rockets have at least cut two games off what was a five-game
deficit behind the conference’s No. 8 seed, and 10th-place Utah has
plummeted since trading Deron Williams. Houston missed a huge
chance to overtake another team above them Tuesday, though, falling
113-110 at ninth-place Phoenix.
“It’s a tough loss, a tough loss,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We
didn’t guard them well in the second half and they made
The absence of Scola, the Rockets’ second-leading scorer at 18.5
points per game, certainly didn’t help. The end of Scola’s streak
of 311 games played to begin his career might linger, as well. He
didn’t practice Friday for the second consecutive day, and is a
A second-round pick of the Spurs in 2002, Scola has averaged
20.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in his last seven games against San
Rookie Patrick Patterson showed Tuesday that the Rockets won’t
be totally lost if Scola has to miss more time. Playing a
season-high 28 minutes, Patterson had 18 points and three
San Antonio (53-12) has seen its star backcourt duo come up big
in two home wins against Houston. Manu Ginobili has averaged 25.0
points and Tony Parker 19.0 with 9.5 assists in the victories,
which included a wild 124-121 overtime win Nov. 6.
They did it again Friday, helping the Spurs compensate for the
absence of Richard Jefferson. Parker had a game-high 27 points and
Ginobili added 24 in a 108-103 victory against visiting
Tim Duncan was key too, scoring eight of his 15 points in the
final seven minutes.
“I thought our ‘Big Three’ pulled it out for us,” coach Gregg
Popovich said. They dug down deep. Tony carried us in the third
quarter, and then Manu and Timmy. Those three guys were great
Jefferson, who missed the game to attend to a personal matter,
is expected to play Saturday. Houston wouldn’t mind if he didn’t,
considering he’s been just as valuable as Ginobili and Parker,
averaging 20.0 points in the series.
Jefferson hit 7 of 8 shots in a 108-95 win over the Rockets on
Jan. 29, after which Scola called the Spurs “the best team in the
If Scola can’t go, Houston could really use a boost from leading
scorer Kevin Martin, who’s been held to 16.0 points per game – 6.8
below his average – and shot 33.3 percent in his last four
Martin has averaged 17.0 points against the Spurs this season.
If he scores 19 or fewer, the Rockets are 6-15. They’re 26-17 when
he goes for 20 or more.
San Antonio concludes a three-game trip next week at Miami and