After running the San Antonio Spurs out of the AT&T Center Monday night, the Rockets looked like they had control of this Western Conference Semifinal series, but the Spurs returned the favor Wednesday to even the series, and Friday night at Toyota Center, they took the homecourt advantage right back with a 103-92 win.
Without Tony Parker for the first time in 221 playoff games, the Spurs took a 2-1 series lead, forcing the Rockets to play their game, slow and methodical, frustrating the Rockets along the way. Houston shot just 36 percent from the field, and it was like that way from the start. The Rockets made just 1-of-7 shots to begin the game, and shot just 25 percent in the first quarter despite leading 21-19.
Houston shot the ball a little better in the second quarter (35 percent), but only managed to score 18 points, and trailed 43-39 at halftime, and the Spurs never gave the lead back.
James Harden made a pair of free throws to start the third quarter, to bring the Rockets within a bucket, but San Antonio scored the next seven points, and after a Harden dunk, Danny Green drained a 3-pointer to give the Spurs their biggest lead of the night. The Rockets answered with a 9-0 burst, but could never get over the hump, and then the Spurs scored 10 in a row. Houston came back to get within three, but Jonathan Simmons hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to double it, and their lead never fell below four points.
For the game, Houston shot 36 percent, with Harden shooting 14-of-28 for 43 points, but the rest of the Rockets shot 30 percent.
Harden led the Rockets with 43 points, while Trevor Ariza added 17, canning 5-of-12 from long distance, but nobody else could get anything going.
Ryan Anderson finished with two points, missing all four his field goal attempts. Patrick Beverly hit his first shot, but made just 2-of-12 after that, and the Rockets bench combined to score 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting.
In game one of this series, the Rockets lit the Spurs defense up for 126 points, but since they’ve failed to score 100, the first time that’s happened in back-to-back games all season.
Dejounte Murray started in place of Parker and scored 2 points in five minutes. Patty Mills came off the bench to give San Antonio 15 points, 11 in the second half, but the stars for the Spurs were Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, with each scoring 26 points.
San Antonio overcame 20 turnovers by shooting 45 percent from the field, putting up 60 points in the second half.