Finley, Ginobili Lead Spurs Past Rockets
San Antonio 88, Houston 81
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Michael Finley and Manu Ginobili teamed up to put an end to the winning ways of the Houston Rockets.
Finley scored 15 points, Ginobili added 14 and both came up huge down the stretch to lift the San Antonio Spurs to an 88-81 victory over the Rockets.
"Tonight's game meant a lot to me and my confidence," Ginobili said. "Hopefully I can improve and get better. I'm getting stronger and jumping better now than I have all season long. We were very disappointed after the Lakers loss from Friday but we stepped up offensively and moved the ball the way we should today."
The Spurs opened the third quarter with a 9-2 spurt and outscored the Rockets, 26-11, in the period to take a 64-53 lead.
"They were much better than us defensively in the third, and then we had some real defensive breakdowns in the fourth," Rockets Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Houston chipped away at the deficit and pulled within 79-77 with 2:52 to play on a runner in the lane by Rafer Alston, who scored 15 points.
Finley responded with a driving dunk and came up with a steal on Houston's ensuing possession that led to a leaner in the paint by Ginobili and an 83-77 lead with 1:55 to go.
"It was great timing for us to add some energy in that fourth quarter," Finley said. "The crowd was into it tonight and we got the win. The Lakers game was disappointing the other night, but coach (Gregg Popovich) emphasized we put that behind us and start a new winning streak."
Juwan Howard scored to make it 83-79, but Ginobili and Finley responded. Ginobili got a step on Yao Ming on a pick-and-roll and drove for a lefthanded dunk and Finley buried a 3-pointer for an 88-79 lead with 39 seconds to play.
"We knew today would be a tough game with McGrady out," Ginobili said. "Yao Ming has been playing extremely well as of late and I wanted to go strong to the basket on them tonight. I had a lot of opportunities to hit shots tonight and I know those will continue to drop as I continue to attack the basket."
Yao scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds for the Rockets. He scored 17 points in the first half but only two in the third quarter as the Spurs took control.
"They just double-team so hard," Yao said. "At times they would just take the ball away from me. I couldn't see the weak side to find that open man. We know we can play. We have learned from the experience of playing without McGrady and know we can still compete."
Tim Duncan scored 20 points for San Antonio
"We did what we had to do to get a win today," Duncan said. "We had a letdown in the last game and we didn't want to let that happen again today. We gave up too many points in the fourth quarter, but overall it was a pretty good game."