Spurs, Rockets tussle in Texas
(Sports Network) - The San Antonio Spurs welcomed All-Star guard Tony Parker back and they'll need all the offense they can muster when they visit the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
Parker returned to the Spurs' lineup Friday night after a three-week absence with a sprained ankle. He played 37 minutes of San Antonio's overtime win over the Utah Jazz and scored 22 points, a team-high.
"He practiced all week. I didn't want to bring him back piecemeal," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "Obviously, he's ready to go. I thought Tony was a little bit shy in the first half. When the game got tight in regulation and overtime, he was Tony Parker.
"Like I said, up until the time he got hurt, there wasn't a point guard in the league playing better than Tony Parker. He's picked up right where he left off."
The Spurs won the overtime 14-7 to get the 104-97 victory.
Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points and Tim Duncan had 19. Danny Green was the last Spurs player in double figures with 15.
The Spurs are in a tight race with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top seed in the Western Conference. They are 2 1/2 games ahead of OKC in that battle for homecourt advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
The Rockets are in their own competition when it comes to the postseason. Houston is currently seventh. The Golden State Warriors won on Saturday to inch a full game ahead of Houston in the sixth spot. The Rockets are 2 1/2 games in front of the eighth-ranked Los Angeles Lakers.
The Rockets have won two in a row in the midst of a seven-game homestand. So far, Houston is 4-1 on the residency and its latest victory was an impressive one.
Against an injury-riddled Cleveland team, the Rockets buried the Cavaliers, 116-78 on Friday. Houston led by 15 at the half, 26 at the end of three quarters, then won by 38.
"I thought we were pretty good," said Houston head coach Kevin McHale. "I thought that a lot of guys had good solid games. Anytime you have seven guys in double figures, that's good."
James Harden led the way with 20, but Chandler Parsons, Donatas Motiejunas, Omer Asik, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Robinson and James Anderson all cracked the 10-point plateau.
The Rockets complete the homestand with the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, then travel to Memphis on Friday. Houston returns home to meet the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
"These next four are going to really test us," acknowledged Jeremy Lin. "We're going to play really, really good teams. This is going to be it. This could make or break it for us so we realize that."
The Spurs have swept the season series to date and have taken four in a row and nine of the last 12 against the Rockets. All three of Houston's wins during that stretch came at home.
03/24 09:41:53 ET