HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Rockets needed one win in their last two games or a loss by Portland on Wednesday to secure home-court advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Trail Blazers.
They were certainly happy to wrap it up Monday night instead of waiting until Wednesday to learn their fate.
The victory gave No. 4 seed Houston home-court advantage in their first-round playoff series with Portland.
“We fought hard for it,” coach Kevin McHale said. “It took a little longer than I hoped, but we knew we had to get 54 wins and we got there with one to spare. I’m glad we didn’t have to wait until Wednesday to try and get it.”
James Harden agreed.
“We wanted to come out here and take care of business and not rely on our last game on the road,” Harden said.
Marco Belinelli had 17 points to lead the Spurs, who limited the minutes of stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili with their top seed in the Western Conference playoffs already secure. Duncan had 12 points in less than 30 minutes, Parker scored 10 in about 25 and Ginobili had 10 in about 22.
“We definitely did what we wanted to do,” Parker said. “We were able to play everybody - no injuries - and we got a good sweat out of it. We did some good stuff and Houston got the win at the end.”
It was the second game back for Howard after he sat out the previous eight because of a left ankle strain.
“I feel like I was in a better rhythm, but I’m going to continue to get in shape, continue to do whatever I can to get my wind back so I can do more things on the floor.”
The Spurs opened the fourth quarter with a 14-4 run to go on top 82-80 for their first lead since the first quarter. Belinelli got that run going with a 3-pointer and finished it with a jump shot.