Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/17

Game 1: Thursday, November 17th
Game 2: Sunday, March 12th
Game 3: Saturday, March 18th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 19th

Rockets 81

(29-34, 16-16 away)

Spurs 88

(49-14, 27-4 home)

2:30 PM ET, March 12, 2006

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

1 2 3 4 T
HOU 22 20 11 2881
SA 25 13 26 2488

Top Performers

Houston: Y. Ming 25 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk

San Antonio: T. Duncan 20 Pts, 10 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

Duncan scores 20 as Spurs hold off Rockets

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Michael Finley was stuck in a corner with the shot clock running down when he found an escape route along the baseline. Then he came face to face with another obstacle -- all 7-foot-6 of Yao Ming.

But Finley, a foot shorter than Yao, never stopped coming. His powerful dunk over the Houston Rockets' center energized the San Antonio Spurs, who went on to a 88-81 win on Sunday afternoon.

"I knew when I went to lay it up that they had a chance to block it, so I wanted to be aggressive," said Finley, who scored eight of his 15 points in the final period. "It was great timing for us. It was something that we needed so far as to get us over the hump."

The Rockets played without star swingman Tracy McGrady, who could miss five weeks with a sore back.

Trailing by 11 after three, Houston closed within 79-77 when Rafer Alston drove the baseline for a layup with 2:52 remaining.

But the Spurs' Nazr Mohammed set a screen on Rick Brunson that allowed Finley to drive the baseline for the dunk over Yao.

A minute later, Manu Ginobili tangled Yao's feet with a crossover before he threw down a left-handed dunk over the Rockets' center to make it 85-79.

Ginobili said the dunk was about the only high spot for him. He finished with 14 points, but shot only 5-for-15 from the floor.

"What I wanted to do was just go strong and draw a foul, if not try to dunk," he said. "I'm kind of upset because I couldn't do it before. I had a lot of opportunities."

Finley clinched the victory with a corner 3-pointer with 40 seconds left.

"Ginobili had a crossover dunk and he created Finley's 3 with his penetration," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "They have so many great perimeter players, the kind of players that give everybody trouble."

Tim Duncan had 20 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio, while Mohammed scored 11 and Beno Udrih 10.

Yao had 25 points for the Rockets, 17 in the first half, and Alston scored 15. Luther Head added 13, including three 3-pointers, and Keith Bogans had 11.

The loss kept Houston winless in 10 games against Southwest Division rivals.

Yao said he had problems with the Spurs' defense.

"They just double-team so hard," he said. "Usually I can at least see the floor, find the open man for a look at the basket. But Bruce Bowen, his finger was almost in my eye a couple of times. I couldn't see the weak side to find that open man."

Yao hit three short jumpers while scoring nine of Houston's first 13 points as the Rockets took an early lead.

San Antonio came back to tie it at 19 with about 3 minutes left in the first quarter on a three-point play by Rasho Nesterovic.

Udrih made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give San Antonio a 25-22 lead after one, but Yao made a 13-footer early in the second to put Houston back ahead.

A pair of 3-pointers by Head sparked the Rockets, who built their advantage to 39-34 late in the half. Yao scored 17 points in the half, while Duncan was held scoreless in the second on 0-for-5 shooting after scoring 10 in the first.

San Antonio erased a four-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Rockets 26-11 in the third. Bogans had nine of those points for Houston, which shot 5-for-17 in the quarter.

Bowen started the run for the Spurs with a 3-pointer, and Mohammed made three straight baskets. After a fast-break layup by Tony Parker, Udrih hit his second 3-pointer to make it 64-53 in the final minute of the third.<

Game notes

The Spurs have beaten Houston 17 straight times at home. ... The Rockets' David Wesley did not play in the second half because of a rib injury. ... San Antonio played its fourth straight without Nick Van Exel (sore left elbow). ... The Rockets and Spurs play again Saturday and then in the season finale on April 19. Both of those games are in Houston.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 81 88
FGM-FGA 33-71 (.465) 37-81 (.457)
3PM-3PA 7-16 (.438) 5-17 (.294)
FTM-FTA 8-11 (.727) 9-13 (.692)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-39 10-40
Assists 19 17
Turnovers 11 9
Steals 8 8
Blocks 4 3
Fast Break Points 11 2
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (2/0) 13 (1/0)
Largest Lead 5 11

Top Performers

San Antonio
Yao Ming Ming
Points: 25
Reb: 10
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 3
Tim Duncan Duncan
Points: 20
Reb: 10
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 0