Rockets beat Spurs, clinch home court advantage

Rockets beat Spurs, clinch home court advantage
April 14, 2014, 9:30 pm
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(Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports)

It took 81 games, but the Rockets finally accomplished one of their stated goals before the season. With their 104-98 win over the Spurs, Houston has clinched home court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The Rockets led for much of the game but just as the Rockets built their largest lead of the game at 76-62 late in the third quarter, they relaxed defensively and the Spurs blitzed them with a 23-4 run to take their largest lead of the game, 85-80 with 6:40 left in the game.

Dwight Howard was very sharp in the first half, hitting all six of his shots, thanks to a nice array of moves against both Aron Baynes and Tim Duncan. He scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the first half and finished with 20 points and 17 rebounds.

Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 21 points.

The game was over when
James Harden did not shoot well, just 4-of-16 in the game, but when he hit a step back jumper with just under a minute remaining to put the Rockets up 100-94, the Rockets had themselves in a position to win.

Highlight of the night
During the Rockets' best stretch of the night early in the third quarter, Pat Beverley picked up an errant Spurs outlet pass and Terrence Jones started the fast break. Jones got the ball ahead to Harden with only Tim Duncan defending the basket, he floated a perfect pass to Jones, who brought the house down with a monster one-handed slam.

Numbers of the night
Terrence Jones finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Houston is now 30-2 when he scores 14 or more points.

Next up
Houston will play their regular season finale Wednesday night at New Orleans. Houston has beaten New Orleans all three times this season, including Saturday night in Houston, 111-104. They closed that game on a 15-0 run. With the Rockets win over the Spurs on Monday night, Houston improved to 11-4 in the Southwest division. That tops their best mark since the formation of the division in 2004-2005, which was 10-6, set that season.