Rockets 111, Spurs 98
The 40 points the Houston Rockets scored in the first quarter of their victory Wednesday night matches the 40 points the San Antonio Spurs gave up in a quarter while losing last week to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
THE LEAD: Houston opened up an 18-point lead over the Spurs in the first quarter, and James Harden finished it off when he scored 16 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter in the Rockets’ 111-98 Christmas Day win at AT&T Center. The Rockets hit 11-for-14 from the floor to start the game and had four 3-pointers from Chandler Parsons (21 points), then Harden went on a 6-for-7 streak in the fourth quarter.
Starting bigs Dwight Howard (15 points, 20 rebounds) and Terrence Jones (21, 14) had double-doubles for Houston (19-11).
Manu Ginobili (22 points in 24 minutes) had a strong game off the bench for the Spurs (22-7), but the starters hardly got going. Kawhi Leonard had 13 points and Tim Duncan added 11 with 14 rebounds, but San Antonio got a 37 percent shooting night (19-for-52) from the starting five.
QUOTABLE: “That’s an embarrassing loss. They whipped us. They whipped us good.”
— Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
THE STAT: The Spurs, for now, are in the league’s top five defensive stats for points allowed and in the top 10 for opponent field goal percentage. But in the past 10 days they have allowed a season-worst 115 points to the Clippers and 40 points in a quarter to Oklahoma City. The Rockets shot 52 percent from the floor, including 12-for-24 on 3-pointers.
TURNING POINT: The Spurs were down by three points 2 ½ minutes into the fourth quarter. Harden checked into the game less than a minute later and scored on the next four Rockets possessions. Not much later in the quarter he hit a 3-pointer that put Houston ahead by 10 with almost five minutes to go. The Spurs were able to trim the deficit to less than double digits just once.