Spurs vs. Houston Rockets
Western Conference semifinals
(Spurs lead series 2-1)
Game 1: Rockets 126, Spurs 99, Monday, AT&T Center
Game 2: Spurs 121, Rockets 96, Wednesday, AT&T Center
Game 3: Spurs 103, Rockets 92, Friday, Toyota Center
Game 4: Sunday, 8 p.m., Toyota Center
Game 5: Tuesday, May 9, (time TBD), AT&T Center
Game 6: Thursday, May 11, (time TBD), Toyota Center*
Game 7: Sunday, May 14, (time TBD), AT&T Center*
Maybe there was something to the Spurs having an edge playing on Cinco de Mayo, which is always observed by San Antonio’s predominantly Hispanic population.
As Matt Bonner noted on Twitter, the Spurs playing on Cinco de Mayo is like the Boston Celtics playing on St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s good juju,” Bonner tweeted.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard each scored 26 points and the Silver and Black carved out a hard-fought 103-92 road win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, taking a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.
May 6, 2017
Kawhi tonight - 26 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists
LaMarcus tonight - 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks
The Spurs took back the home-court advantage they lost after the Rockets rolled to a 126-99 rout in Game 1. Game 4 is at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Toyota Center in Houston.
San Antonio’s victory came two nights after the team lost veteran point guard Tony Parker in the fourth quarter of the Silver and Black’s 121-96 win in Game 2 at the AT&T Center. Parker ruptured a left quadriceps tendon while going up for a shot and will miss the remainder of the postseason. He had surgery on Friday morning.
“Guys just playing harder, guys just stepping up,” Aldridge said when asked how the Spurs rallied after losing Parker. “Patty [Mills] played great tonight. Dejounte [Murray] came out and gave us some good minutes.”
Aldridge, who had only four points in the series opener, scored 15 in Game 2 and looked like his old self Friday night.
“My rhythm felt better tonight,” Aldridge said. “Got some shots up [Thursday]. I felt last game was big for me, getting those misses out of the way. Tonight, I was just more confident.”
Aldridge played his best game of the series on both ends of the court, getting his 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting and finishing with seven rebounds and four blocks.
“He felt good tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was loose. As far as his physical nature, his legs and everything, he wasn’t too stiff, and it showed. He moved up and down the court well.
“He was able to push off on the block. He felt good shooting the ball. In addition to busting his butt on D and trying to hit the boards for us, he was a big help tonight.”
The Spurs won playing their brand of basketball, playing at their pace and relying on their defense to contain the Rockets’ freewheeling offense. Houston point guard James Harden went off for 43 points, but the Rockets shot only 36.4 percent overall (32/88) and 30.8 percent (12/39) from the 3-point line.
The Silver and Black won despite finishing with 21 turnovers, but they allowed Houston only seven points in transition.
San Antonio set the tempo early by playing inside-out to exploit their advantage in the paint with Aldridge and Pau Gasol.
Popovich started Murray, a 20-year-old rookie, at the point and continued to bring Mills off the bench. Mills finished with 15 points and buried two three-pointers.
Harden made 14 of 28 shots, including 5 of 13 from beyond the arc. Trevor Ariza, who had five three-pointers in the first half, finished with 17 points and Clint Capela had 12 to round out the Rockets’ double-figure scoring.
Leonard made 9 of 20 shots, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc, and added 10 rebounds and seven assists. With Parker out, Leonard continued to handle the ball more and hurt Houston as a facilitator.
Gasol and Danny Green had 12 and 11 points for the Spurs, who shot 45.3 percent overall (30/86) and 36 percent (9/25) from the three-point line. Green buried back-to-back three-pointers that gave the Spurs double-digit leads with less than four minutes remaining. Gasol also had nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
The Spurs outrebounded the Rockets 49-39.