Taipei, Dec. 29 (CNA) The Houston Rockets' five-game winning streak was ended by the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday, the third straight time Houston has lost to its Texas rival this season.
The Rockets stayed close to the Spurs through the first three quarters, but they trailed by double digits for most of the final 12 minutes in a 122-116 loss.
James Harden scored a game high 33 points, Chandler Parsons had 24, and Jeremy Lin added 21 for Houston.
Lin shot 9 of 16 from the field in scoring 20 points or more for the fifth time this season, and he also had four steals and a team-high eight assists. But Lin, Harden and Parsons also had five turnovers apiece.
The Spurs jumped out to a 21-8 lead in the first six minutes and scored a season high 41 points in the first quarter on 70 percent shooting.
Trailing 41-29 after the opening quarter, the Rockets pulled back to narrow the deficit to 69-65 at the half, and they were still within 98-92 at the end of the third quarter before faltering.
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said his team dug itself too deep a hole early in the contest.
"We had to fight back. I was proud of the guys and how they battled back," he was quoted by AP as saying.
Tony Parker contributed 31 points and ten assists and Tim Duncan had 30 points and five rebounds to lead the Spurs. Manu Ginobili added a season-high 23 points off the bench.
"I had a nice stretch early in the third quarter, but those guys (Parker and Duncan) have been great all season. I kind of joined in on the scoring. The main thing is that we beat another great team that has been rolling," Ginobili said.
The loss dropped the Rockets to 16-13 on the season. Their next game is at home Saturday night against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.
(By Lung Po-an and Nell Shen)