http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/303075

NBA: Spurs ruin Houston in second half, Rodeo Road Trip up next

Posted Jan 30, 2011 by Lynn Herrmann
A game that stayed close through the first half saw San Antonio torch the net with a three-point barrage in the fourth quarter that helped bury the Houston Rockets, 108-95, and giving the Spurs a big lift as they prepare for their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
San Antonio Spurs and home court.
San Antonio Spurs and home court.
wikimedia commons
Coming into the game, the Spurs continued to surprise many as they still maintained a league-best record of 39-7, including a 24-2 home record. By game’s end, Spurs fans saw those numbers improve by one, including an 18-game home win streak.
The Spurs nearest Western Conference opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, got caught sleeping Friday night as they were apparently thinking ahead to a Sunday matchup against the Boston Celtics. The Sacramento Kings, winners of 10 previous games all season, held on in Los Angeles for a 100-95 victory, dropping the Lakers seven games behind the Spurs.
With that breathing room, the Spurs could have taken a break before heading out on the difficult 9-game road trip that includes a ridiculous four games in five nights. Instead, the team’s defense buckled down in the second half while at the same time the scoring helped spread out Houston’s defense.
DeJuan Blair, the Spurs’ second-year center from Pittsburgh, picked up two early fouls, going to the bench at the 8:51 mark in the first quarter. He would return with a vengeance later on.
Kevin Martin had a strong first quarter for the Rockets, damaging the Spurs with 10 points and the team’s strong rebounding helped Houston go into the second quarter with a one-point lead, 26-25.
The Rockets started the second on a 6-2 run, going up 32-27, forcing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to use a timeout. San Antonio responded with an 8-4 run and were up 37-36 at the 6:39 mark. Tony Parker was untouchable, scoring jump shots, driving layups and converting free throws on those times when Houston could touch him.
Houston regained the lead, 51-50 with 33 seconds to go in the half but Manu Ginobili drained a trey on the next trip down the court and the Spurs were up 53-50 at intermission.
The Spurs shot 55 percent in the first half, led by Parker’s 14 points. Ginobili and Blair each had 10 points.
The Rockets managed to stay close by shooting 51 percent.
The third quarter saw both teams fail to mount any momentum, but by the 7:00 mark, all five Spurs starters were in double figures in scoring.
Luis Scola hit a running hook shot with 1:45 left in the third, bringing the Rockets within four, 72-68, but San Antonio’s defense was beginning to establish itself, and the Spurs ended the third quarter up by five, 76-71.
A beautiful dunk by Antonio McDyess started the Spurs fourth quarter scoring effort. Ginobili nailed a three to put the Spurs up 81-73. After a Scola bucket for Houston, Ginobili hit another three, sparking the Spurs and igniting the crowd.
A Blair tip-in off a Ginobili three point attempt kept the Spurs roll going. George Hill hit another three for the Spurs with 7:31 to go. He then stole the ball and drove in for a dunk, getting fouled in the act. His free throw had the Spurs up 95-81.
Charles Hayes hit a jumper for Houston, but the Spurs had all the momentum as Parker nailed another Spurs three. Shane Battier hit a pull-up jumper for the Rockets but Richard Jefferson answered with yet another Spurs three and San Antonio was in control, 102-85 with 5:00 to play in the game.
Scola ended the game with a double-double for Houston, scoring 23 points and snaring 10 rebounds and Kyle Lowry added 15 points. Kevin Martin and Chuck Hayes each added 10 points.
The Spurs unleashed all their offensive weapons again in a well-balanced attack. Ginobili led the Spurs with 22 points and Richard Jefferson had a great night with 18 points on 7 of 8 shooting, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Popovich, said after the game: “He (Richard Jefferson) was aggressive all night, he played well. He caught with the idea of trying to be a scorer whether it was shooting the ball or driving it. He did a good job the entire time he was on the court. He also did a good job on the defensive end,” according to MySanAntonio.
Parker added 17 points. Hill and Blair each scored 14 and Tim Duncan added 12. In all, six Spurs players added double figures to the scoring attack.
Now, the Spurs move out of the AT&T Center for the big rodeo event, and can’t wait to return home to the lingering remains.
The Spurs win improved their record to 40-7. Up next, a big week for the Spurs as they take on Portland, the Lakers and Sacramento.