Dec 25, 2013 11:12 PM by Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - James Harden scored 28 points and Dwight Howard had 15 points and 20 rebounds, leading the balanced Houston Rockets to a 111-98 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.
Each of Houston's starters scored in double figures as the Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Spurs this season, with both victories coming on the road. They also moved within 3½ games of San Antonio (22-7) for the lead the Southwest Division.
Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones each scored 21 points for the Rockets (19-11), who shot 52 percent from the field. Jeremy Lin had 13 points, eight assists and just one turnover.
The Spurs have dropped two of three and split their last six games. They are just 3-6 over the last month against teams with a record above .500.
Super sub Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 22 points, and Tim Duncan added 11 points and 14 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard had 13 points, but Tony Parker was held to six points on 3-for-11 shooting.
San Antonio never recovered after Houston raced out to a 27-9 lead. The Spurs were unable to stop Parsons' long shots, Harden's drives, Howard in the paint or Jones on the boards for follow ups.
After trailing by 18 points in the first half, San Antonio made a couple of charges in the second half but couldn't get the defensive stops necessary to complete the rallies.
Leonard's three-point play on Howard's fourth foul pulled San Antonio to 71-64 with 4:47 left in the third. The Spurs closed to 73-71 before Harden and Lin began draining long jumpers to help the Rockets pull away again.
Harden closed out the victory, scoring 16 points in the final quarter. His second 3 of the game made it 100-90 with 5 minutes remaining.
NOTES: Rockets G Patrick Beverley (right hand) and C Omer Asik (thigh contusion) missed the game. . Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones sat courtside, a row in front of David Robinson's customary seats. The actor laughed and applauded when The Coyote, the Spurs' mascot, snuck beside him disguised as a Christmas tree. . Terrence Jones pushed Matt Bonner after the Spurs' reserve forward wrapped up Howard high after the Rockets star grabbed his third offensive rebound on one possession. Duncan stepped between, putting his hand in Jones' chest and pushing him away before officials broke up the gathering. . While the Rockets got smatterings of cheers throughout the game, Howard was lustily booed whenever he attempted a free throw or entered the game.
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