Spurs opt to rest Duncan and Ginobili for road trip to rivals…
The Houston Rockets made the most of San Antonio Spurs’ absentees and secured a comfortable win on Thursday night to move to 6-0 for the season.
Dwight Howard ended the game with 32 points and 16 rebounds as he made the most of the plan to exploit the Spurs’ weakness in the post with no Tim Duncan (rested) or Tiago Splitter (injured).
In addition, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich opted to rest Manu Ginobili for a back-to-back while Marco Belinelli was out injured as the likes of Matt Bonner, Aron Baynes and Cory Joseph were given extensive minutes.
Baynes led the way with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Joseph had 18 points off the bench, but ultimately the short-handed Spurs didn’t have enough without their key duo while Tony Parker struggled offensively.
While the Spurs slip to 2-2, the Rockets continue to fly high at the top of the Western Conference with a league-best 6-0 record, as James Harden also enjoyed a productive night with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Elsewhere, the Portland Trail Blazers moved to 3-2 for the season with victory over the Dallas Mavericks as Damian Lillard continues to overcome his early slump.
The point guard ended the game with 18 points, five rebounds and six assists while LaMarcus Aldridge played his role with 20 points before sitting down for the entire fourth quarter.
Portland locked in defensively after the half-time interval and went on a decisive 18-4 run in the third quarter, and ultimately that has been a key part of their two-game winning streak after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this week.
It was a disappointing night for the Mavericks who continue to struggle in the third quarter, but at 3-2, they will hope to bounce back quickly and stay in the mix at the top of the West.
Dallas Mavericks 87-108 Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs 81-98 Houston Rockets