THE San Antonio Spurs found an extra gear after a scary injury on Tony Parker to clobber the Houston Rockets, 121-96, and level their West semis series at 1-1 on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).
Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, and Jonathon Simmons gave the Spurs some much-needed energy to start the fourth in crashing the boards for the offensive rebounds and getting off a 9-0 spurt for a 97-83 lead with 10:15 in the quarter.
But silence soon filled AT&T Arena as Parker sat still on the court holding his left knee with an apparent injury after an awkward landing.
San Antonio, though, responded with a 19-0 run after Parker left the court to extend the lead to 30, 118-88, with over three minutes left in the quarter. The Spurs bench continued the rampage over the Rockets reserves the rest of the way.
Spurs built an early 25-16 lead before the Rockets weathered the storm and tied the game at 33 at the start of the second quarter. But San Antonio went on a 17-9 run to finish the first half with a 10-point advantage, 65-55, while doing a fine job defensively on James Harden, who only had three points on 1-of-9 shooting at the break.
Despite Harden’s struggles, the Rockets kept within reach, slashing a 14-point lead down to three late in the third quarter behind the hot shooting of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.
Simmons, though, scored San Antonio’s final four points in the period to keep the Spurs ahead, 88-83, into the fourth frame. Tony Parker had seven of his 18 points in the third to help San Antonio keep Houston at bay.
Kawhi Leonard had a masterful performance for San Antonio with 34 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Parker ended up with 18 markers in 26 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge and Simmons scored 15 and 14, respectively.
Gasol led the Spurs attack on the offensive glass with six of his 13 rebounds off San Antonio misses while adding six points. The Spurs won the rebound battle, 47-32, over the Rockets.
Anderson had 18 points to lead Houston, who made 11 triples after making 22 in Game 1. Gordon and Clint Capela added 15 and 14 markers, respectively. Harden ended up with 13 points on just 3-of-17 from the field.
Game 3 goes to Houston on Friday.