Official Rockets at Spurs Game Thread (7:30)
Houston (9 - 8)
San Antonio (15 - 4)
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- Fine or no fine, Gregg Popovich isn't likely to change his philosophy on resting starters throughout the season.
So far, the San Antonio Spurs' bench has been ready to answer the coach's call.
The Spurs, though, won't get a break in the schedule Friday night when they host the Houston Rockets, losers of five straight on the road.
San Antonio's reserves nearly led the team to a win at Miami on Nov. 29 after Popovich sent four starters home to rest before the nationally televised contest.
Popovich, whose team was later fined $250,000 for his action, went to his bench out of necessity on Wednesday night.
With Danny Green (hamstring), Stephen Jackson (finger), Kawhi Leonard (knee) and Patty Mills (ankle) out because of injuries, the Spurs displayed their depth again in a 110-99 victory over Milwaukee.
Gary Neal started in place of Green and scored 22 points, Tiago Splitter finished with 15, Manu Ginobili had 11 and Matt Bonner added a season-high 12 rebounds off the bench.
Even with Neal moving into the starting lineup, San Antonio's bench had 40 points, 25 rebounds and 13 assists, and fueled a late 36-13 run that keyed the team's seventh win in eight games.
The Spurs (15-4) rank near the top of the Western Conference in bench scoring at 39.8 points per game. They'll continue to need a complete team effort with this contest starting a stretch of three games in four nights.
"They're talented," said Tony Parker, who led the starters with 22 points. "They showed it in Miami and they showed it again. Pop is always trying to do stuff to make sure our bench is performing."
Tim Duncan, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Bonner led an impressive performance on the boards. San Antonio outrebounded Milwaukee 53-36, including 28-17 in the second half.
The Spurs hope to match that effort against the Rockets (9-8), who rank near the top of the NBA in rebounding (45.2 per game). Omer Asik ranks third in the league with 12.1 per contest.
The Rockets also received a boost from their bench on Tuesday night. Toney Douglas scored a season-high 22 points, Greg Smith added a career-best 21 and Carlos Delfino had 15 in a 107-105 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We had a lot of guys struggle, but our bench was good," said interim coach Kelvin Sampson. "There is a lot to be said about having guys on the bench that you trust that can come through."
James Harden, the team leader with 23.6 points per game, will try to break out of a 13 for 51 (25.5 percent) shooting slump over his last three games.
After averaging 23.0 points in his previous three games, Patrick Patterson is also looking to get back on track after a six-point effort on Tuesday.
Houston shot just 37.6 percent from the field - including 7 of 34 (20.6 percent) from beyond the arc - against the Lakers after shooting 50.3 percent in its previous four games.
While the Rockets have averaged 111.7 points in winning five of six, all five of those victories have come at home. They're just 2-5 on the road and haven't won there since the second game of the season.
Houston, which split the four-game series with the Spurs last season, will try to avoid a sixth straight loss in San Antonio.
PROJECTED INACTIVE PLAYERS
Spurs: Jackson, Leonard, Green.
Rockets: Scott Machado, Royce White.
Spurs conclude three-game homestand against remade Houston team that returns just five players from last season.
… Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year with Oklahoma City, Harden is averaging 23.6 points, 5.4 assists in first season as Rockets starter.
… Houston ranks third in NBA in scoring (103.7 ppg.); Spurs are fifth at 102.6 ppg. … Spurs’ four losses have come against three teams that are a combined 37-14.
… Spurs are 8-2 this season when tied or trailing after three quarters, including past two wins over Memphis and Milwaukee.
… Sampson is 7-5 as Houston’s interim coach during Kevin McHale’s leave of absence, granted to deal with the death of his daughter. Sampson’s Rockets are 0-4 on the road.
James Harden & Co will be ready for the Spurs!:smirk
Harden is leading the league in Turn Overs he is turning averaging 4.1
Rockets bench is keeping them in the game. This would be a good test for Spurs bench as well!!!!
Spurs might be short handed but they can TEAM HUSTLE and will tough it out through this ugly Defensive battle with the Rockets.
Spurs TEAM 101 :rock
Go Spurs Go
Nail Biter going down the wire with the last few seconds free throws sealing the game from Manu or Tony!
NBA Refs for this game:
Ken Mauer, Nick Buchert, & Derrick Collins
Go Spurs Go
With the Rockets being hot over the last few games and checking Houston's roster as to who has bothered us in the past, I believe we need to contain Asik, Parsons and Delfino. Harden is now on a team where he can run and gun, so he'll probably get his points, we just need to hold down the others and hold our turnovers to a minimum. And with Leonard, Jackson, Green and probably Mills out again, the bench needs to step up because our starting five, with the exception of TD and TP, just haven't been setting any agressive tone on both offense and defense in the early part of the game. If we can do that and not allow the Rockets to grab offensive rebounds for additional shots, we should see our starters on the bench mid way through the 4th quarter.
Yep as I mentioned this is going to be a very good test/Challenge for Spurs Bench!!!
Spurs starters will be the key here. If the starters set the tone early the bench will take over, but we can't afford starter to start slow again....
Houston is a GREAT Rebounding Team too.
If they can keep Asik off the glass then they have a shot.
What at Great Win by Spurs! :rock
Spurs started strong and finished strong!
Spurs mopped the floor with dos Rockets! I was at the game and it felt pretty nice to see Spurs in control! :D
Great Ball Movement and Great Spurs TEAM Hustles! Spurs Trusting each other and that is a huge key. Text BBall.
I was impressed mostly with Tiago he is becoming real quick.
Nando De Colo was very interesting to see.
Manu was unbelievable he was Huge in that game. TP9 was so Great and MVP like. Timmy looked real focused. Diaw was very good. Green was fantastic. Mills was very good. Gary Neal is such a streaky shooter he can shoot unconsciously he looks like he got it on automatic and in the zone!!!!!!
This Spurs team is showing some serious TOUGHNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!
I want Spurs to play like that come Monday night in Houston!
Cant wait to see Captain Jack & Leonard come back to see Full Power Spurs Defensive TEAM.
Granted they won at home but still. I think they can do it on the road too...
Let's win another tomorrow in Charlotte! :)
Go Spurs Go
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