The Houston Rockets surprised the San Antonio Spurs with a dominant offensive performance in Game 1 to steal home-court advantage. The Spurs responded with a monstrous performance of their own in Game 2, coming into Game 3 with both teams knotted at one apiece in the series.

The biggest loss for San Antonio in the first two games was Tony Parker, who is done for the year after rupturing his left quadriceps tendon. In his place, rookie Dejounte Murray earned the starting role.

Evenly played first half

After witnessing two blowouts, it was a far more exciting first half tonight, as both teams were trading baskets throughout.

Trevor Ariza was on fire for Houston, connecting on five three-pointers for 15 points to lead all scorers in the first half.

The Spurs had a narrow four-point lead heading into the locker rooms led by Lamarcus Aldridge’s 12 points and four rebounds.

Spurs take more control in the second half

James Harden had himself a huge third quarter, scoring 14 points in the period, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Spurs, who at one point took an 11-point lead. Towards the end of the third when Harden was sitting down, the Rockets closed the gap and were gaining momentum until Jonathon Simmons nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

Although only down six heading into the fourth, the Rockets were never able to recover because the Spurs seemed to have control of the game, playing at a favorable pace.

Danny Green knocked down two dagger three-pointers late in the game to put the Rockets away. The Spurs prevailed with an enormous 103-92 victory to regain home-court advantage.

The box score

After two quiet games to open the series, LaMarcus Aldridge came alive in Game 3, scoring 26 points, corralling seven rebounds, and blocking four shots on 12-of-20 shooting.

Kawhi Leonard also had 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds, and seven assists. In Parker’s absence, Patty Mills poured in 15 points off the bench, while Danny Green added 11 points.

Harden finished with a game-high 43 points and shot 50 percent from the field, but his efforts were not enough. Ariza cooled down in the second half, concluding with 17 points, five assists, and five rebounds.

The Rockets were held to 92 points, which should indicate that the pace favored the Spurs. San Antonio was slowing down the game as much as possible, taking up shots late in the shot clock and making sure their defense was back in transition. The Spurs also overcame 20 turnovers, which was the most in franchise playoff history.

The Rockets were held to 36.4 percent shooting from the field and were out-rebounded, 49-39. It was a collective team effort by the Spurs, as expected. With a 2-1 lead, they will head into Game 4, which will be played on Sunday, with all the momentum.

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