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Old 11-07-2014, 12:20 AM   #1
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Rockets stop Spurs 98-81 as Howard nets 32

Dwight Howard scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Houston Rockets continued their dream start, beating the in-state rival San Antonio Spurs 98-81 on Thursday night.

Howard exploited a Spurs interior that was missing two key players, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. Manu Ginobili also was held out of the game for rest a night after helping San Antonio to a 94-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Howard and Houston took advantage, leading the game wire-to-wire on the way to a league-best 6-0 record. With the loss, the Spurs drop to 2-2.

James Harden had 20 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Rockets.

Cory Joseph led the Spurs with 18 points off the bench and Aron Baynes had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

With no Duncan or Splitter, who was nursing tightness in his right calf, Houston had a decided advantage down low and exploited it from the beginning, feeding Howard at every turn. Whether in the post, at the elbow, or on alley-oops passes, Howard was the target and had a double-double — 20 points and 12 rebounds — by halftime as he exploited a vulnerable Spurs interior defense where Matt Bonner, Jeff Ayers, and Aron Baynes struggled to keep up.

As the Spurs struggled to keep Howard from gutting them in the middle, they had little consistency when they had the ball. The Spurs started the game sluggish, going the first six minutes without a score.

While San Antonio rebounded and pulled to within 18-15 at the end of the first quarter, that was as close as the Spurs would get. San Antonio shot just 34.4 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 31.


Spurs: Marco Belinelli was an injury scratch due to a strained right groin and was replaced by Bonner. . San Antonio started 0-for-15 on 3-pointers, making their first with 7:02 to go in the third quarter, and finished 2 for 20 from beyond the arc.

Rockets: Terrence Jones missed his second straight game with a leg contusion. . Patrick Beverley missed the game due to a strained hamstring and was replaced by Isaiah Canaan, who scored 12 points along with Jason Terry's 16 points. . Houston has now won six games over the Spurs dating to last season.


Spurs: Host New Orleans on Saturday.

Rockets: Host Golden State on Saturday.

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