The Rockets could not buy a bucket early in the game, falling behind by 15 points in the first quarter. That just set the stage for the dramatics, as the Rockets woke up in the second half and turned a seven point deficit into a seven point win, 97-90. Dwight Howard missed his first eight shots of the night, but finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds and Jeremy Lin, starting in place of the injured James Harden, added 18 points and eight assists.
Houston has clinched the season series with the Southwest division-leading Spurs by winning each of the three games. They had not won the season series since before Tim Duncan put on a Spurs uniform for the first time.
The game was over when
Jeremy Lin hit a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to put the Rockets up 96-90, which was significant since the team was just 26-of-47 on the night from the free throw line. Lin was perfect, though, making all seven of his attempts.
Highlight of the night
With the Spurs still within striking distance late, down just two points with 1:30 left, Howard corralled an offensive rebound and threw down a monster slam. The crowd erupted, as they did several times throughout the second half.
Numbers of the night
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went to the Hack-a-Howard intentional fouling strategy with Spurs down 61-58 and 3:28 left in the third quarter. Spurs went that route for the rest of the period essentially and in the process, the Rockets lead grew to eight points, 72-64. Dwight Howard made 10-of-16 free throws, while the Spurs finished the quarter, just 2-of-7 from the field.
The last of the Rockets four consecutive games against southwest division opponents comes Wednesday night in Dallas. Houston will try to split their season with the Mavericks. Houston won the first meeting of the season, now Dallas has won the last two.