SAN ANTONIO – The Houston Rockets' 101-99 victory over the Spurs on Wednesday night was a tale of two halves.
Led by point guard James Harden, who recorded his 10th career triple-double, the Rockets scored 33 points in the first quarter and had 63 at halftime. Yet they led by only three points after two quarters.
The Spurs shored up their defense in the second half, yielding 22 points in the third quarter and 16 in the fourth to stay within striking distance. Trailing 101-99 with 5.8 seconds left, they called a timeout to set up a play.
The Silver and Black appeared to be on the verge of at least tying the game when Kawhi Leonard, who finished with a game-high 34 points, drove to the basket and shot a three-foot floater. But the ball hit off the rim and LaMarcus Aldridge was unable to make the put-back. Game over.
"It was a good play call," Leonard said. "Got the shot off. It just didn't fall."
"We got a great look," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Harden finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists as the Rockets (5-3) handed the Spurs (5-3) their third consecutive home loss. San Antonio hadn't dropped three in a row at the AT&T Center since December 2014, when it lost overtime games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers
That's a comedown for a team that went 40-1 at home last season, tying the league record set by the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. After taking Thursday off, the Spurs will host the Detroit Pistons on Friday night in the front end of a back-to-back. San Antonio plays at Houston on Saturday night.
"We gave up 63 points in the first half and 38 points in the second half," Popovich said. "That's we we've been doing here at home, play a quarter or two of defense and a quarter or two of no defense. The consistency, in that regard, has not been good."
The Rockets led 33-24 after one quarter and 63-60 at the half. They took an 85-80 lead into the fourth period.
Houston had four other players score in double figures -- Ryan Anderson (20), Eric Gordon (15) Clint Capela (12) and Sam Dekker (10).
Leonard scored a game-high 34 points on 11-of-26 shooting. He went 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, and added seven rebounds. Aldridge (14) and David Lee (10) were the only other Spurs to score in double digits.
The game marked the return of Spurs guard Danny Green, who hadn't played this season after sustaining a contusion in his left quad in the preseason. Green finished with eight points in 34 minutes.
"I felt a little tired, but my body reacted a little bit better than I thought it would," Green said. "My legs aren't fully there yet, as you could see on fast breaks. It was a good game for me to come back and be thrown into the fire, go up against James Harden."
Green, one of the Spurs' best defenders, started out guarding Harden.
Green was asked about the team's three-game skid at home.
"We gave up a lot of points in that first quarter, especially the first half," he said. "We've got to do a better job of ot getting into holes. It's hard to bleed out. If we played like we did in the third and fourth throughout the whole game, it would help us a ton without exerting so much energy."
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Wednesday night's game:
Final: Rockets 101, Spurs 99. Kawhi Leonard driveds to the basket, but he misses the shot.
Fourth quarter (5.8): Rockets 101, Spurs 99
Fourth quarter (3:39): Rockets 98, Spurs 95.
Fourth quarter (7:18): Rockets 96, Spurs 90. Houston has scored three-straight baskets, one a 3-pointer, to go up by six. LaMarcus Aldridge gave S.A. its last lead, 90-89, with a basket in the paint.
Fourth quarter (9:39): Spurs 88, Rockets 86. LaMarcus Aldridge hit a post-up jumper to tie the game and Danny Green dunks one in after getting a steal, putting the Silver and Black up by two.
End of third quarter: Rockets 85, Spurs 80. Kawhi Leonard leads S.A. with 27 points. LaMarcus Aldridge and David Lee have 10 points each. James Harden high scorer for the Rockets with 20 points, followed by Eric Gordon (15), Ryan Anderson (14) and Sam Dekker (10).
Third quarter (2:56): Rockets 83, Spurs 74
Third quarter (5:48): Rockets 77, Spurs 72.
Halftime notes: Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs' scoring with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He is 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. James Harden scored 14 points to lead the Rockets in the first half. Eric Gordon (13) and Sam Dekker (10) are the other Houston players in double figures . . . Houston outrebounded S.A. 21-14 in the first half. Dekker has six rebounds for Houston . . . The Rockets shot 53.7 percent (22/41) overall and was 7 of 14 from the 3-point line. The Silver and Black shot 50 percent from the field (20/40), including 5 of 13 from long distance.
Halftime: Rockets 63, Spurs 60
Second quarter (00:0): Rockets 63, Spurs 60. Sam Dekker beats the buzzer with a 3-pointer, giving Houston a three-point lead at the half.
Second quarter (6.9): Spurs 60, Rockets 60. Kawhi Leonard nails a 3-pointer to tie the game late in the first half.
Second quarter (2:35): Rockets 53, Spurs 51. LaMarcus Aldridge put the Spurs up 51-50 before Ryan Anderson hit a 3-pointer for the Rockets.
Second quarter (8:35): Rockets 43, Spurs 30.
End of first quarter: Rockets 33, Spurs 24. James Harden leads Houston with nine points. Kawhi Leonard scored 10 points for the Spurs in the first period. The Rockets scored 13 fast-break points, and S.A. had only one turnover.
First quarter (3:25): Rockets 20, Spurs 16. James Harden has scored seven points for Houston. Kawhi Leonard has seven points for S.A.
First quarter (7:24): Rockets 13, Spurs 11
Pregame notes: Spurs guard Danny Green, who has missed the first seven games of the season with a left-quad contusion, will start against Houston on Wednesday night, coach Gregg Popovich said in his pregame session with reporters. Popovich also said Tony Parker, who will miss his third consecutive game with a sore right knee, could play this weekend. Patty Mills will sub for Parker.
SPURS GAMEDAY: Green probable vs. Rockets on Wednesday
Houston Rockets (4-3) vs. Spurs (5-2)
Tipoff: 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, AT&T Center
Rockets’ last game: Won 114-106, at Washington, Monday
Spurs’ last game: Lost 116-92 to L.A. Clippers, Saturday, AT&T Center
Notable: The Spurs have lost back-to-back home games for the first time since December 2014.
SAN ANTONIO – So which Spurs team is going to take the floor against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center?
Will it be the one that has won five games by an average of 15.4 points, including a 129-100 blowout of two-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State, or the one that’s lost two by an average of 19?
The Silver and Black haven’t played since getting crushed by the Los Angeles Clippers 116-92 Saturday night. Veteran Spurs guard Manu Ginobili was somber when he talked with the media after the game.
“Awful game,” he said. “They killed us in every aspect. Give them credit. We’ll try to improve. We’ll try not to repeat that type of performance. Nobody likes losing, especially at home. A little disappointment, but as well know, it’s only seven games. There’s a long way to go and we all believe there’s an enormous margin for improvement.”
The loss Saturday was the second in a row at the AT&T Center for the Spurs, who went 39-0 on their home court last season before losing to Golden State on April 10. They beat Oklahoma City two nights later, finishing 40-1 at the AT&T Center and tying the 1985-86 Boston Celtics for the best home record in NBA history.
San Antonio hasn’t lost three consecutive home games since December 2014, when it dropped overtime games to the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers.
Backup guard Patty Mills said that losing at home is “a lot more painful” than coming up short on the road.
“This is home and you’ve got to protect it as much as you can, but it definitely hurt the other day,” Mills said.
The Spurs got some good news Tuesday when guard Danny Green, who has missed the first seven games of the season with a left-quad contusion, was listed as probable for Wednesday night’s game against Houston. Point guard Tony Parker, who has a sore right knee, is listed as questionable. If he can’t answer the bell, Mills will sub for him.
Green practiced with the Austin Spurs, the Spurs’ team in the NBA’ D-League, on Sunday and participated in Monday’s workout with the Silver and Black.
“Felt good,” Green said Wednesday when as he was asked how his injured thigh was feeling. “Mentally, it’s been frustrating, but I’m staying positive. Our trainers and our strength and conditioning guys have done a great job helping me get back and keeping me in shape. It’s a continuous thing. I’ve got to stay on top of it.”
One of the team’s best defenders, Green has been missed by his teammates.
“The fact that Kawhi (Leonard) is on our team makes Danny’s ‘D’ secondary or people don’t pay attention, but he’s been very reliable,” Ginobili said. “He’s had some tough assignments, too, and he’s responded really well. Of course, we’ve missed him. It was not the only reason we were not as sharp, but he’s another guy out there that is athletic, understands the game, that knows the opponents, knows Pop very well, our system."
“For sure, he’s going to be important in our comeback. But, again, it’s going to his first game. We shouldn’t be putting all the pressure on him if he doesn’t play good ‘D.’”
Leonard, the Spurs’ leading scorer, has been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year each of the past two seasons.
Guard James Harden had 32 points and 15 assists in Houston’s win at Washington on Monday. It was Harden’s fourth consecutive 30-10 game. Ryan Anderson added 23 points for the Rockets, who also started forward Trevor Ariza, center Clint Capela and guard Corey Brewer. Mike D’Antoni is in his first season as Houston’s coach.
Next up for Spurs: vs. Detroit Pistons, Friday, 7:30 p.m., AT&T Center.
(© 2016 KENS)