Updated: Rockets Beat Duncan-less Spurs; Portland Cruised Past Mavs

HOUSTON (Sporting Alert) — Dwight Howard poured in 32 points and 16 rebounds in guiding the Houston Rockets to a comfortable 98-81 win over an inferior San Antonio Spurs team at Toyota Center on Thursday night.

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HOUSTON (Sporting Alert) — Dwight Howard poured in 32 points and 16 rebounds in guiding the Houston Rockets to a comfortable 98-81 win over an inferior San Antonio Spurs team at Toyota Center on Thursday night.

Howard had an easy night without any real big players to guard him and the center went 12-of-18 from the field and 8-of-13 from the free throw line for Houston (6-0), which beat a Spurs side that was playing without Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, who were both rested by coach Gregg Popovich.

Another key player, Tiago Splitter, also missed the came due to a right calf problem.

James Harden collected 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and three blocks, while Jason Terry knocked down 4-of-5 from long range on his way to scoring 16 points in the win for the Rockets, which won its sixth consecutive game to start the season.

Cory Joseph scored 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the bench to lead the Spurs, who dropped to 2-2 on the season.

Aron Baynes had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Danny Green finished with 10 points in the defeat for San Antonio, which went 0-for-12 from three-point range in the 1st half.

Marco Belinelli missed the game with a strained right groin and he was replaced in the starting lineup by Matt Bonner, who scored just five points in the defeat.

All-star point guard Tony Paker was just 3-of-8 from the floor for six points in 26 minutes.

Both teams will have Friday night off, with the Spurs playing host the New Orleans on Saturday and the Rockets entertaining Golden State on the same night.

In the other NBA game played on the night, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds, while Damian Lillard added 18 points, including 10 in a dominant Portland fourth quarter and the Trail Blazers beat the Dallas Mavericks 108-87 at Moda Center.

Portland (3-2) also collected 13 points from C.J. McCollum and 12 points each from Wesley Matthews and Chris Kaman.

The Trail Blazers outscored the Mavericks 62-37 in the second quarter, including 35 points in the third.

“Coming out of the locker room (at halftime), we picked up our aggressiveness,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “There was a lot to like.”

Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points to lead Dallas (3-2), with Monta Ellis finishing with 14 in the defeat.

“We couldn’t get the stops we needed as the game turned into a walk-up-the-court game and that’s not us,” Nowitzki said.

“We’ve got to get stops to get the ball moving.”

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle echoed Nowitzki’s views, adding that his team most also improve defensively.

“We have to get better fast at the defensive end,” Carlisle said.

“We have been doing a lot of good things, but our defense has been inconsistent. We have to make a stand there.”

He added: “Our first half was OK, but the second was very poor. I’m going to take responsibility for all of that.

“I have to do a better job getting these guys ready to play an entire 48 minutes. That’s where it’s at.”

Up next for the Mavericks is a trip to the Utah Jazz on Friday night, while the Trail Blazers, which had also dominated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers before Thursday’s win, travel to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

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