HOUSTON (AP) — Heading into a game with the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale had his eye on a few matchups. A specific one that caught his eye was getting Dwight Howard in the post.
The plan worked.
With San Antonio missing big bodies Tim Duncan, who was rested along with fellow veteran Manu Ginobili, and Tiago Splitter (right calf tightness), Howard dominated the interior from the opening tip, scoring 32 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in leading Houston to a 98-81 victory.
“We looked at some stuff (on tape) and we got him in the post,” McHale said. “I thought (Howard) rolled hard and got some late at the rim. He was really devastating on those high passes. It’s important that he gets in a rhythm and plays. It doesn’t matter who is out there playing for them, he’s got to play well for us.”
The win runs Houston’s record to a league best 6-0 while dropping San Antonio’s mark to 2-2.
With no Duncan or Splitter inside Houston had a decided advantage down low and exploited it from the beginning, feeding Howard at every turn. Whether on the pick-and-roll, at the elbow, or on alley-oop passes, Howard was the target and had a double-double — 20 points and 12 rebounds — by halftime as he exploited a vulnerable Spurs interior defense where Matt Bonner, Jeff Ayers, and Aron Baynes struggled to keep up.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and the Portland Trail Blazers led by as many as 27 points on the way to a 108-87 rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.
Portland trailed the Mavericks 50-46 at the half but outscored them 35-18 in the third quarter and Dallas couldn’t catch up. Damian Lillard added 18 points.
The game was delayed several minutes midway through the fourth quarter when a fan collapsed. The fan was rushed across the court by stretcher as a paramedic performed CPR. There were no immediate details about the person’s condition.
Nicolas Batum had eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but sat for the fourth quarter after the Blazers had built a sizable lead. Batum has four career triple-doubles.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 17 points, but 15 came in the first half.