With the San Antonio Spurs staring at a 19-point deficit in the second half Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, Tim Duncan took over and carried them to victory.
Duncan scored 25 points and grabbed seven boards while Tony Parker added 24 to help the Spurs rally for a 99-91 win over the Rockets for their 11th win at the AT&T Center this season.
The Rockets led by 18 points in the third quarter and looked poised to put the game away before Duncan led the Spurs on an 11-2 run.
The Big Fundamental scored 16 points in the quarter, after which the Spurs trailed only 71-67.
“Tim Duncan, he went to the fountain of youth or something yesterday,” Neal said. “Cause today he looked phenomenal. Tim’s one of our leaders, everybody knows that; we just kind of fed off of him tonight.”
The Spurs took their first lead since the first quarter on Danny Green’s 3-pointer with seven minutes left in the game — a shot that brought his former coach Roy Williams, in attendance to support Green, to his feet.
Both teams traded baskets before the Spurs took the lead for good on Neal’s runner with only two minutes remaining.
San Antonio closed the game on an 8-0 run.
“Timmy and Tony did a great job of leading the way for the whole group and everybody else followed and they never gave in,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs (14-9) have won two straight and improved to 11-1 at home.
Gary Neal had 15 points for San Antonio, and split the four-game season series with the Rockets (12-10), who have lost two straight.
Kevin Martin led Houston with 29 points, but went 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter, while Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee added 15 points each.
Luis Scola had a miserable night, scoring just four points and committing five turnovers in 25 minutes for the Rockets.
Duncan and Parker, carried much of the Spurs offensive load but got plenty of help from Green in the fourth quarter. The athletic forward played most of the second half after going 0-for-4 from the field in the first half.
His defense was key to Martin’s second-half struggles.
“A guy like that, once he gets going, you’ve got to throw different things at him, try to cool down his rhythm,” Green said. “We had different guys guarding him. He’s very hard to guard cause because he can make shots and he also knows how to use his body to draw fouls. You have to be careful being physical with him. When he catches it, I just tried to be annoying so he doesn’t get in rhythm and get comfortable to make shots.”
Meanwhile, Duncan, as so often has been the case, was key to comeback.
After Martin’s pull-up jumper put Houston up 58-40 with 10:25 left in the third quarter, Duncan responded with a short fadeaway jumper . He then scored six straight points later in the quarter to pull San Antonio within three.
“I just tried to be aggressive, tried to get into the paint,” Duncan said. “They were staying locked up with our shooters. They weren’t double teaming and I got a chance to attack a little more and get to the paint and make some shots, and draw some fouls.”
The Spurs will go for a 3-game win streak as they host the New Orleans Hornets tonight at the AT&T Center for the second night of a back-to-back.