The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
Posted: March 12, 2018 -- 10:50 pm CST.
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- In a game the Rockets led by as much as 26 points (86-60), the Houston Rockets crushed the San Antonio Spurs 109-93 Monday night. The Rockets led 25-21 at the end of the first quarter and 54-43 at halftime before erupting in the third quarter.
"I thought we defended real well. They're (San Antonio Spurs) beat up (Manu Ginobli (rest); Kawhi Leonard ("return from injury management") , and LaMarcus Aldridge (right knee soreness)). They're missing guys. So, it obviously would help. But, you know we've played -- I don't know how many games in about eight or ten days -- a lot of games it seems like; and, to have the legs and being able to do what they're doing and put the game away, it's pretty good."
With tonight's win, the Rockets take a 3-0 lead in the regular season series against the Spurs with one game remaining at San Antonio on April 1.
The Rockets improve to 53-14 and need to win six of their final 15 games to finish with the best record in franchise history.
Spurs' center Pau Gasol said, the Rockets are "talented and they have a lot of shooters as they did last year. Now, they have more defensive presence with (P.J.) Tucker, (Luc Mbah a) Moute, and Chris (Paul). They're going to give them more toughness, versatility, another great ball handler besides James (Harden).
"They're tough, there's no question about it; and, there's a good reason why they have the best record in the league at this points. It doesn't mean they're going to win it; but, it does mean they have a good chance to get there. There's still a long way to go for them and for the the rest of the teams that are trying to get there."
Houston has won 12 straight games at home which ties for the third-longest home winning streak in franchise history. (Prior to the current streak, the Rockets lost three of four at home.)
James Harden scored a game-high 28 points in 29 minutes of play which is the 12th time he has scored at least 28 points in 30 or fewer minutes played and the second time this season (28 points in 27 minutes versus the Denver Nuggets February 9, 2018).
Chris Paul had 18 points and 9 assists in just 23 minutes of action. It's the first time in his career Paul has recorded at least 18 points and 9 assists in fewer than 24 minutes played.
Gerald Green scored 14 points off the bench. Green has scored in double-digits in consecutive games for the first time since seven straight from January 30 to February 11.
With the loss to the Rockets, the Spurs are 37-30 on the season; and, currently, the Spurs are 10th in the Western Conference.
"Everybody tries to be the best they can be by playoff time and that will be our goal, too," Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. "To be in the playoffs and to be as good as we can possibly be no matter what the circumstances are."
The Rockets' next game is Thursday, March 15, at home, versus the Los Angeles Clippers. Tip is set for 7 p.m.