Danny Green scored 24 points while Tim Duncan scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lift injury-hit reigning NBA champion San Antonio over visiting Houston 110-106 Sunday.
The game featured 20 lead changes and was deadlocked 13 times before the Spurs improved to 19-13, only seventh in the Western Conference, while the Rockets slipped to 21-8. Houston had won the prior six meetings between the clubs.
The Spurs, who had 15 points off the bench from Argentine guard Manu Ginobili, were playing without French star guard Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, both injured, and only welcomed back Australian guard Patty Mills for his first game of the season following shoulder surgery.
Mills, French forward Boris Diaw and New Zealand forward Aron Baynes each added eight points off the bench for the Spurs.
San Antonio hit 21-of-24 shots from the free-throw line while the Rockets sank only 18-of-31 from the line.
James Harden led Houston with 28 points while Dwight Howard scored 24 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and Corey Brewer came off the bench to score 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.