Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/11/12
HOUSTON -- Perhaps this was a special, limited engagement of Linsanity. Rockets guard Jeremy Lin matched his career high of 38 points, but Houston could not overcome the San Antonio Spurs' bevy of sharpshooters, falling 134-126 in overtime Monday night at Toyota Center. Guard Gary Neal paced San Antonio (18-4) with a career-high 29 points, and Tony Parker notched his first triple-double with 27 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds. Manu Ginobili added 22 points off the bench. Ginobili followed a Neal 3-pointer with a three-point play with 2:03 left in overtime to give the Spurs a 130-122 lead and subdue the feisty Rockets (9-11). "In overtime, we had a pretty experienced team out on the floor, and they did a good job," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "But I thought Houston was sharper than we were most of the night." Neal and Rockets forward Chandler Parsons traded 3-pointers during one riveting stretch in the fourth period, with Parsons' third consecutive trey pushing Houston in front 116-113 with 3:34 left. Ginobili stroked a 3-pointer for a 120-118 Spurs lead with 1:45 to play, and the teams closed regulation knotted at 120 and shooting a combined 51.8 percent (29-for-56) from long distance. The Spurs shot 52.5 percent (48-for-92) from the floor, including 14-for-30 on 3-pointers. Neal connected on seven of his 10 3-point attempts. "I was able to hit my first few," Neal said, "and was able to build on it." With leading scorer James Harden missing his first game due to a sprained right ankle, Lin played with the aplomb that earned him international acclaim last season with the New York Knicks. Lin opened the game averaging 9.9 points on 38.1 percent shooting. However, after the Spurs built an 88-81 lead on a Parker reverse layup with 2:36 left in the third quarter, Lin scored seven consecutive points to pull the Rockets even. His 3-pointer with 1:20 to go in the third was his second of the period; his third with 2.4 seconds left gave the Rockets a 93-91 lead heading into the fourth quarter. His scoring surge continued unabated to open the fourth, as Lin added a coast-to-coast transition layup, a driving scoop shot layup and two free throws with 10:38 remaining for a 102-93 Houston lead. When Lin took a seat on the bench for a much-deserved breather, the Spurs responded with an 11-2 run that pulled them even and set the stage for the wild finish. "I'm thankful that I was able to get comfortable out there, but that's definitely secondary to the fact that we blew another close game," Lin said. "I had the ball to win it (at the end of regulation) and didn't even get a shot up. This one definitely hurts." Rockets center Omer Asik paired a career-high 21 points with 10 rebounds. Parsons added 20 points and seven rebounds. Houston, however, could not match wits with the Spurs in the extra session. "Those guys, those closers have been in a million of those games," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "The Spurs have been together a long time." NOTES: Entering Monday's action, the Spurs were the only NBA team ranked in the top five in pace (third at 94.0 possessions per 48 minutes), offensive rating (fifth, 109.7 points per 100 possessions) and defensive rating (fourth, 100.6 points per 100 possessions). "Coming into camp, (defensive improvement) was a big emphasis, so I have to say that they've bought in and understood that if we want to be a factor at the end of the year, we have to be a better defensive team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ... With Harden sidelined, Lin will get the chance to orchestrate more of the offense. "We've got to find a way to get Jeremy (going) with the ball a little bit more, even with James," McHale said. "We've got to make sure he's able to do some things." ... Injured Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson (fractured finger) was fined $25,000 by the league on Sunday for a "hostile statement" directed at Thunder forward Serge Ibaka via Twitter on Friday. Jackson subsequently deleted the message from his Twitter account and apologized.
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