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Rockets thrash Spurs in NBA

Dwight Howard has scored 32 points with 16 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets stayed unbeaten after blasting the injury-hit defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 98-81.

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The Rockets moved to 6-0 on the season for the first time since 1996-97 after taking advantage of the absence of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who were give the night off, while Tiago Splitter (calf strain) and Marco Belinelli (groin) nursed injuries.

James Harden had 20 points and Jason Terry added 16 off the bench for the Rockets, who led by as many as 31 in the wire-to-wire beat-down of their Texas rivals.

Howard had 20 points on an assortment of pick-and-roll plays along with 12 rebounds, taking Houston to a comfortable 45-29 halftime cushion.

The Rockets continued the assault, as Harden converted a rare four-point play, a layup and a thunderous dunk, opening up a 64-41 cushion midway through the third quarter.

Houston carried an 81-55 advantage into the final 12 minutes and completed the romp for their sixth straight win in the series.

Cory Joseph netted 18 points for the Spurs (2-2), who shot a frosty 34 per cent from the field and just 2-of-20 from behind the arc.

In the only other game scheduled, Portland beat Dallas 108-87.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points, Damien Lillard added 18, and Trail Blazers used a game-breaking 35-17 third-quarter to snap the Mavericks’ three-game winning streak.

Behind by four at halftime, the Blazers hit 13-of-20 floor shots in the decisive frame while limiting their guests to 6-of-20, to take an 81-68 into the final 12 minutes en route to the easy victory.

German juggernaut Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas (3-2) with 17 points, but just two in the second half.

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