|San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan sits on the bench during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011, in Houston. The Rockets won 105-85. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)|
Martin, Lowry lead Rockets over Spurs 105-85
HOUSTON—Kevin Martin scored 25 points, Luis Scola added 18 and Kyle Lowry had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 105-85 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.
The Rockets took advantage of the Spurs' poor shooting at the start and built a big lead. First-year Houston coach Kevin McHale was able to rest his starters in the fourth quarter, with his team playing the first of three games on consecutive nights.
DeJuan Blair scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for San Antonio, which shot 38 percent (35 of 93) and went 2 for 17 from 3-point range. Tim Duncan went 1for 8 from the field and scored four points and Richard Jefferson went 2 for 10 and had only five points for the Spurs.
Scola scored eight of Houston's first 10 points, prompting Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call an early timeout. Martin sank his first 3-pointer of the season after going 0 for 6 from long range in the opening loss to Orlando and the Rockets led 13-4.
The Spurs missed nine of their first 10 shots, but rallied to cut their deficit to 23-18 by the end of the first quarter.
Martin stayed hot in the second quarter, hitting another 3 to help the Rockets rebuild the lead. San Antonio, meanwhile, hit another drought, missing 15 of its first 17 shots in the second quarter.
Houston led 53-35 at the break. Martin sank three 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the half, only two points shy of the total for the Spurs' entire starting lineup.
Martin swished a 3-pointer in the first 45 seconds of the third quarter to stretch the lead past 20 points for the first time. Parker and Ginobili started driving inside and San Antonio started to rally, climbing to within 12 on Blair's putback near the midpoint of the quarter.
Martin hit another long jumper and Lowry sank a 3 as the Rockets regained control and built the lead to 78-59 by the start of the fourth.
A lineup of all reserves maintained the comfortable lead for Houston early in the final quarter, as the Spurs continued to sputter on offense. The outcome decided, Popovich had all his starters except Richard Jefferson on the bench with 4:20 left.
Samuel Dalembert, acquired by Houston on Monday, blocked four shots and scored four points in 21 minutes of action. The 6-foot-11 Dalembert, a much-needed presence inside, had 10 points and five rebounds in Houston's opener.
Manu Ginobili, who had 24 points in each of the Spurs' first two games, scored only eight points in Houston.
Notes: Spurs G Gary Neal (appendectomy) did not make the trip, though Popovich said Neal is "progressing each day." Neal averaged 9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists last season. Popovich hopes that Neal will be ready for contact drills "in a couple of days." ... Rockets F Patrick Patterson (sprained right ankle) sat out for the second straight game. ... Spurs F Tiago Splitter had 10 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. ... Dalembert also had seven rebounds.