Sports Network) - The San Antonio Spurs will play one more home game before departing the Alamo City for their annual rodeo road trip, as they host the Southwest Division-rival Houston Rockets tonight at the AT&T Center.
Each year around this time the Spurs hit the road while the annual San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo takes over the AT&T Center. Historically, the long trips have actually been very successful for Gregg Popovich's team, which has compiled a 44-20 mark in the eight rodeo road trips since the club moved into its new venue.
The Spurs will visit the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Kings, Pistons, Raptors, 76ers, Wizards, Nets and Bulls on the lengthy excursion, and just went 2-1 on a recent three-game trek through New Orleans, Golden State and Utah. In Wednesday's 112-105 victory over the Jazz in Salt Lake City, Manu Ginobili finished with 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds for San Antonio, which has won 10 of its last 11 games and used a 17-0 run in the second quarter to grab a comfortable lead.
"The game went our way for a while and we got a big lead and they showed a lot of class coming back and getting into it," Popovich said. "It was a scrappy game from beginning to end. Luckily we had enough of a lead to hang in there."
Tony Parker chipped in 23 points and six assists, Tim Duncan and Gary Neal added 13 points apiece and Richard Jefferson added 14 in the win -- San Antonio's 32nd in 33 tries when leading after the third quarter. The Spurs will put their 17-game home winning streak on the line tonight and are a dazzling 24-2 in the Alamo City this season.
Houston will resume a four-game road trip Saturday and opened the trek with a 111-106 loss in Dallas Thursday night.
Luis Scola led the Rockets with 30 points and eight rebounds, while Kevin Martin and Chuck Hayes added 27 and 16 points, respectively, for Houston, which almost overcame a 25-point deficit. The Rockets had a modest two-game winning streak stopped and lost for the third time in five tries.
"You can not dig yourselves into a 25-point hole before you come to play," Martin said. "I don't know what inspired us, when coach yelled at us or the embarrassment of being down 25, but you can't, especially on the road to a team of Dallas' caliber, get down 25 and expect to win."
The Rockets are scheduled to visit the Lakers and Jazz on the trek, and are 9-16 outside of Space City this season. Houston guard Jared Jeffries (knee) and center Brad Miller (knee) are both questionable for this evening.
In other Rockets news, injured center Yao Ming was voted as the starting center for the Western Conference All-Star squad. Yao, of course, has been hobbled with a stress fracture in his left ankle. Popovich earned the right to coach the West after a win over Golden State Monday, which guaranteed the Spurs the best record in the conference through Feb. 6.
San Antonio squeezed out a 124-121 overtime victory versus Houston back on Nov. 6 this season in the Alamo City, as Parker scored seven of his 21 points in overtime and added 14 assists. The Spurs have won six of the last 10 matchups between the teams.
Houston has lost 22 of its last 26 contests at San Antonio. It will host the Spurs at the Toyota Center on March 12 and April 1.