(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs decided to throw their hat into the Southwest Division race with three games to go and will face a familiar foe Friday against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center.
The defending NBA champion Spurs have captured the Southwest title in each of the last four seasons and sit one-half game behind Houston and Memphis in the division standings.
San Antonio just defeated Houston, 110-98, on Wednesday in the Alamo City and was led by Tony Parker's 27 points on 13-of-18 shooting. Kawhi Leonard posted 20 points, Boris Diaw had 15 and Manu Ginobili collected 13 points for the Spurs, who shot 51 percent from the floor and kept the Rockets at bay in the second half (53-45).
"I thought we played pretty well," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If we did do something (in the second half) it was good. I probably wouldn't tell you anything publicly, but we didn't invent anything."
Tim Duncan and Aron Baynes combined for 22 rebounds and 14 points. San Antonio outrebounded the Rockets, 47-39.
The Spurs, who sit even with the LA Clippers for fifth in the Western Conference, have won nine in a row and 19 of their 22 games. They are unbeaten in the last three road games and 21-18 outside the Alamo City.
In injury news for the Spurs, guard Marco Belinelli (groin) and center Tiago Splitter (calf) are questionable Friday.
San Antonio will host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and has held its last nine opponents under 100 points.
The Rockets went 2-1 on their road swing and failed to reach the century mark in scoring for only the fourth time in the past 13 contests. NBA leading scorer James Harden (27.6 ppg) scored 22 points one game after pumping in 41 on Easter Sunday against Oklahoma City.
Trevor Ariza had 19 points, Dwight Howard chipped in 16 with 11 rebounds, and Josh Smith rounded out the double-digit scorers with 13 points off the bench.
"They just came out and played with a little more energy on both ends of the floor," Howard said. "They won loose balls and just out-hustled us."
Houston made 46.4 percent from the field, and had won three straight and 10 of the past 12 games.
The Rockets and Grizzlies are even for the second seed in the West with identical 53-25 records. The Rockets will host New Orleans on Sunday and have a 28-10 mark in Space City this season.
On the injury front for the Rockets, they will reportedly be without forward Donatas Motiejunas for the remainder of the season after the Houston Chronicle reported that he may need to undergo surgery for a lower back injury. Motiejunas has missed the last seven games and is averaging 12.0 ppg.
San Antonio is 2-1 against Houston this season, but has lost four in a row as the visitor in this series. The Spurs last prevailed in Houston on Dec. 10, 2012 in a 134-126 overtime triumph.