7:00 PM Spurs-Rockets Preview
San Antonio (17 - 4)
Houston (9 - 10)
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
STATS Senior Writer
(AP) -- Kevin McHale wasn't with the Houston Rockets for last week's blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
He could be hard-pressed to make adjustments that will slow down the Spurs as these Southwest Division rivals meet Monday night in Houston.
McHale rejoined the Rockets (9-10) for Saturday's 116-109 defeat to Dallas. The coach spent almost a month away from the team, and returned two weeks after the death of his daughter.
"It was different being out there again," McHale said. "I had been away for a long time and we had put in some stuff. I've got to get caught up, so these next few days will be good for us."
The last game Houston played without McHale, Kelvin Sampson was interim coach for last Friday's 114-92 loss at San Antonio (17-4). Six different Spurs reached double figures as they led by as many as 33 points and outscored the Rockets 60-38 in the paint.
That disparity in points was probably what the Spurs' last opponent had in mind when Charlotte decided to pack the paint Saturday. That strategy didn't work because Danny Green made a career-high seven of San Antonio's franchise-record 19 3-pointers in a 132-102 rout.
"We were driving and kicking and moving the ball," said Green, who scored a season-high 23 points. "It makes the game a lot easier when you're making shots."
Tim Duncan was only needed to contribute 11 points in the Spurs' highest-scoring effort since a 133-111 win over Minnesota on April 12, 2010.
"We've been really good about moving the ball and we're really getting on the same page with that," Duncan said. "When our guys get open shots they knock them down. So if they don't want to concede them in the paint, we will hurt them on the outside."
The Spurs have won four straight and nine of 10, with the lone defeat the infamous loss at Miami in which Gregg Popovich left four key players at home.
San Antonio is second in the NBA with 104.6 points per game while Houston is allowing an NBA-worst average of 103.9.
The poor defense is a major reason why the Rockets have trailed by at least 17 points in each of their last three games. They are at a loss to figure out how to improve.
"Communication, transition defense, help-side defense, just everything," forward Chandler Parsons said. "We've got a lot of work to do. Our offense is fine, we can't worry about that."
Offense hasn't been a problem for James Harden, who followed up a 29-point effort in the loss to the Spurs with 39 versus the Mavericks.
Struggling point guard Jeremy Lin, however, logged a season-low 18 minutes in McHale's first game back. Lin has totaled 15 points in his last three games.
"That's a coach thing and that's their decision and I totally respect that," Lin said. "We're all in it together and we're on a team. Everybody goes through their own ups and downs."
The Rockets have won their last three home games over the Spurs.