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Spurs Seek to Continue Trend Against Rockets
Posted Dec 22 2006 6:18PM
The San Antonio Spurs look to continue their domination of the Houston Rockets when the intrastate rivals meet on Friday at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs are trying for their 18th consecutive home win over the stumbling Rockets, while also seeking to extend their overall home winning streak to seven games.
Since Jan. 26, 1998, San Antonio is 29-4 in all games against the Southwest Division rival Rockets, and has won the last eight meetings by holding Houston to an average of just 80 points.
The Spurs (20-6) won their sixth consecutive home game 105-98 over Memphis on Wednesday, holding on despite blowing a 19-point third-quarter lead.
``They really caught fire in the third quarter,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ``We were able to get it done. So they did a good job when it mattered.''
Tim Duncan, who leads the Spurs with 21.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, made all eight of his shots from the field en route to his second straight 21-points, nine-rebound effort.
The two-time NBA MVP has never lost to the Rockets at home since entering the league as the first overall selection of the 1997 NBA draft. He has averaged 21.4 points and 10.8 rebounds in those 16 contests.
Eight of the 17 wins for San Antonio over Houston came at the Alamodome, which it left for the new AT&T Center in 2002-03.
The Spurs are 10-3 there this season after going 34-7 at home in 2005-06. San Antonio's average margin of victory is 16 points during its current home winning streak.
Overall, the Spurs have won their last five games and nine of 10, the lone loss in that span coming in a 106-99 road defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 10.
The Spurs have not won six in a row since a seven-game streak from Feb. 21-March 6 of last season - a run which included two wins over Houston.
The Rockets (15-10) close out their five-game road trip hoping to avoid a fourth loss on the swing. Houston lost 89-87 at Portland on Wednesday as it continues to struggle without Tracy McGrady, who has missed five games with back spasms and is not expected to suit up against San Antonio.
``If you have major guys down you are not going to be as efficient,'' Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy told the team's official Web site. ``Teams that either have great depth like San Antonio who can withstand injury, or teams that have a number of experienced players are the ones that win.
``Either you have to have depth or you have to have health.''
The Rockets are 10-34 without McGrady since acquiring the All-Star in a trade with Orlando before the 2004-05 season.
The scoring burden has fallen on Yao Ming, and the center has responded by averaging 33.0 points and 11.4 rebounds in the last five games. For the season, Yao is scoring a career-high 27.0 points per game and averaging 9.8 rebounds - both marks lead the team.
Yao is averaging 20.4 points in his last five visits to San Antonio.
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