Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/3

Game 1: Tuesday, December 3rd
Game 2: Monday, January 20th
Game 3: Sunday, March 2nd
Game 4: Thursday, March 27th

Rockets 85


Spurs 98


    8:30 PM ET, March 27, 2003

    AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 22 15 24 2485
    SA 23 25 31 1998

    Top Performers

    Hou: M. Taylor 15 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast

    SA: T. Duncan 25 Pts, 14 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Loss drops Houston out of playoff picture

    SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs moved a little closer toward Dallas for the top spot in the Western Conference.

     Tim Duncan

    As a bonus, the Spurs pushed Houston back a step in the playoff race.

    Stephen Jackson scored 27 points, 11 of them during a key third-quarter run, and Tim Duncan added 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists to help San Antonio win 98-85 Thursday night.

    The Spurs (51-20) trail the league-leading Mavericks by three games with 11 to play.

    "We want to accomplish the same things we wanted at the beginning of the season," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his team's goals down the stretch. "We want to be in a set offensively when it counts and make a stop when it counts."

    The Rockets (37-35) slipped a half-game behind idle Phoenix for the eighth and final postseason spot.

    "What can I say?" said Houston guard Steve Francis, who was limited to eight points and didn't play at all in the final period. "We ran into a buzzsaw."

    Francis and acting coach Larry Smith blamed the loss mostly on fatigue, after the team played its seventh game in 10 days

    "We gave them baskets they shouldn't have got," said Smith, who is standing in while Rudy Tomjanovich undergoes cancer treatment. "Stephen Jackson had some good looks, and he knocked them down."

    Cuttino Mobley, who led the Rockets with 21 points, was less willing to offer excuses for the loss.

    "Seven games in 10 days -- that's the NBA. You've got to live with it,'' he said. "One day we'll learn to win those games."

    Jackson's third-quarter burst included a pair of 3-pointers that extended San Antonio's 11-point halftime lead to as many as 20 midway through the period.

    The Rockets trimmed the lead to 11 in the final period, but Jackson stopped San Antonio's slide by hitting the last of his five 3-pointers with 5:16 remaining.

    "Our guys on the perimeter are invaluable," Spurs center David Robinson said. "They are breaking down the other teams' defenses, and if they miss shots, we are there to rebound them and put them back."

    Maurice Taylor added 15 points for the Rockets. Rookie center Yao Ming played only 16 minutes and finished with two points on 1-for-9 shooting to go with three rebounds.

    San Antonio jumped to a 16-6 lead in the opening minutes by making seven of its first 10 shots, while holding Houston to only 3-for-10 shooting.

    James Posey hit a baseline jumper, an alley-oop dunk and then a 3-pointer to lead a Rockets run that cut the Spurs' lead to 22-20 late in the first quarter.

    Houston lost its shooting touch again in the second period as the Spurs built their lead to 48-35. Mobley's second basket of the half capped the scoring.

    Duncan scored 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the half, while Francis, Mobley and Yao -- the Rocket's top scorers -- managed only 4-for-18 shooting for nine points.

    Game notes
    Parker, who sprained his right wrist in Tuesday's win over Milwaukee, played with the wrist taped. ... San Antonio, at 51-20, can still match its all-time best record of 62-20, set in 1994-95. The team is 32-7 since Jan. 1. ... Yao averaged 17.3 points and 11.7 rebounds in the first three games against the Spurs this season. ... Francis, averaging 21.8 points a game, was held to only 10 points on 5-for-24 FG in Houston's two games at the SBC Center. ... Francis was called for a technical after picking up his third foul early in the third period, and teammate Kelvin Cato was whistled for a technical early in the fourth.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 98
    FGM-FGA 35-81 (.432) 41-79 (.519)
    3PM-3PA 5-15 (.333) 6-13 (.462)
    FTM-FTA 10-12 (.833) 10-20 (.500)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-39 10-38
    Assists 16 23
    Turnovers 15 10
    Steals 2 5
    Blocks 3 8
    Fast Break Points 2 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (2/0) 14 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Maurice Taylor Taylor
    Points: 15
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 25
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3