(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs welcome their Texan neighbors, the
Houston Rockets, for a Southwest showdown on Christmas night.
The Spurs have played well recently with three wins in their last four and
seven victories in their last nine. They are a comfortable 4 1/2 games ahead
of the Rockets in the division.
On Monday, the Spurs avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time this
season with a 112-99 home victory over the Toronto Raptors, a team that handed
the Oklahoma City Thunder their first home loss of the season on Sunday.
Tony Parker registered 26 points and eight assists and San Antonio made 6-of-7
3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
"A win is a win," said Parker. "They've been playing well, the Raptors. They
had a big win in OKC, and they made it hard on us."
Gregg Popovich was a little more effusive in his praise Monday, but it was for
his All-Star point guard.
"We won that game because of Tony Parker's aggressiveness. His juice. His
aggression all night long," Popovich said.
Manu Ginobili continued his fantastic play this season with 18 points off the
bench. Danny Green went 4-for-6 from 3-point land and finished with 14. Kawhi
Leonard had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Tim Duncan chipped in nine
points, 12 boards and four blocks.
The Rockets fell on Monday, at home to the Dallas Mavericks, 111-104. Houston
has alternated wins and losses over its last eight games.
The Rockets had no answers for Dirk Nowitzki on Monday. The future Hall of
Famer went off for 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting as Dallas shot over 50
percent from the field.
"We tried a bunch of different stuff," said Houston hHead coach Kevin McHale.
"We tried showing and coming back. We tried staying on there. We tried running
at him. Nothing seemed to work."
The Rockets were solid on offense despite being without leading scorer James
Harden, who sat with a sprained left ankle. He is questionable for Wednesday.
Jeremy Lin returned from a four-game absence with back spasms and scored 20
points. He started in place of normal starter Patrick Beverley, who is out
with a broken right hand.
Dwight Howard had another monster game with 29 points and 15 rebounds.
Chandler Parsons finished with 21 points and Aaron Brooks chipped in 18 off
the bench. Terrence Jones managed 10 points.
The Rockets play five of their next six at home.
Houston defeated San Antonio in Alamo City on Nov. 30, 112-106. The Rockets
have won two straight against the Spurs after losing four in a row before
The Spurs have won 10 of their last 13 against the Rockets at home.
The Sports Network