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Aldridge steps up to help Spurs down Rockets in Game 3

/ 01:05 PM May 06, 2017
LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts with Pau Gasol #16 against the Houston Rockets during Game Three of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals at Toyota Center on May 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts with Pau Gasol #16 against the Houston Rockets during Game Three of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals at Toyota Center on May 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

HOUSTON — Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points apiece to help the San Antonio Spurs, now without Tony Parker, beat the Houston Rockets 103-92 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Aldridge had managed just 19 points combined in the first two games, but stepped up in the wake of Parker’s season-ending leg injury, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to help the Spurs pull away.

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Game 4 is Sunday night in Houston.

James Harden led the Rockets with 43 points after scoring just 13 in Game 2. But he had just five assists and complained about the officiating all night.

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The Spurs were playing in the postseason without Parker for the first time since 2001, ending an NBA record of 221 straight playoff appearances for the Frenchman. The 34-year-old was injured in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

Coach Gregg Popovich started rookie Dejounte Murray in San Antonio’s first game since Parker’s season-ending quadriceps injury, instead of moving Patty Mills into the starting lineup. Mills had 15 points in 30 minutes and Murray scored just two points in 15 minutes.

The Spurs led by six when Aldridge scored all of their points in a 7-2 run to make it 85-74 with about five minutes left.

Houston scored six straight points soon after that to get within eight, but Danny Green made two 3-pointers in less than a minute to push the lead to 94-82 with less than three minutes remaining.

San Antonio was up by six entering the fourth quarter and had a five-point lead with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining when Harden was given a technical foul for complaining after not getting a call. Leonard made the free throw to make it 78-72.

The Spurs led by four at halftime and used a 9-4 run, with seven points from Leonard, to push the lead to 52-43 early in the third quarter. San Antonio was up by 10 soon after that before the Rockets used a 10-1 spurt, with all the points from Harden, to cut it to 56-55 midway through the quarter.

Jonathon Simmons hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to leave San Antonio up 72-66 entering the fourth quarter.

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Harden picked up his third foul with 5:18 left in the first quarter when he ran into Pau Gasol and crashed to the court while attempting a 3-pointer. Harden was outraged at the call, flipping over on his stomach on the court and kicking his legs in disbelief.

He remained upset after a timeout, approaching a referee and arguing the call, before finally calming down.

TIP-INS
Spurs: Parker had surgery on Friday to repair the ruptured quadriceps tendon in his left leg. The team said a timeline for his return will be determined later. … Gasol had 12 points and nine rebounds. … Green had 11 points.

Rockets: Trevor Ariza made five 3-pointers in the first half, but none after that. … Beverley received a technical foul in the fourth quarter. … Capela finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds.

UP NEXT
After Sunday’s game in Houston the series moves back to San Antonio for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

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TAGS: Houston Rockets, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, NBA, San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker, Western semifinals
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