Tony Parker was happy about getting his first career triple-double on Monday night.
When it became clear that the performance was going to help the San Antonio Spurs win, the 12-year veteran could enjoy it so much more.
Gary Neal scored a career-best 29 points and Parker had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Spurs over the Houston Rockets 134-126 in overtime.
"I was like: `Man if we lose, nobody is going to care," Parker said with a laugh about his triple-double. "Now that we won the game it makes it even better, because at the end of the day people only care about wins."
Parker's outing complemented Neal's 7-of-10 performance from 3-point range.
Parker's teammates had fun with him after the game, with a couple of them bellowing "Mr. Triple-double" as he entered the locker room, eliciting a sheepish grin and a shake of the head from him.
"All night long, he kept us in the game," Spurs coach Gregg Poppovich said of Parker. "With his play on both ends of the floor, he was magnificent."
Jeremy Lin had his best game since joining the Rockets, scoring a career high-tying 38 points with leading scorer James Harden sidelined by a sprained right ankle. It was just the second time he'd scored more than 20 points since coming to Houston.
Neal's last 3-pointer followed by a three-point play by Manu Ginobili put the Spurs ahead 130-122 with two minutes left in overtime, and they held on for the win. It was San Antonio's fifth straight win overall and second over Houston in three days after a 114-92 victory Friday.
"Gary was unbelievable," Parker said. "He made some big shots for us. He was the one who kept us in the game with timely 3s, very timely 3s in the fourth quarter and in overtime."
The Rockets provided a stronger challenge in this one after San Antonio never trailed in Friday's win. But Houston's inexperience showed in overtime as the Rockets had three turnovers to help the Spurs build the lead.
Houston fell to 0-2 since coach Kevin McHale returned to the bench Saturday after taking a leave of absence Nov. 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Alexandra "Sasha" McHale died Nov. 24 of complications from Lupus. She was 23.
"Those guys, those closers have been in a million of those games," McHale said of the Spurs.
A 3-pointer by Ginobili put the Spurs up two before Omer Asik tied it on a jumper with 37 seconds left. Parker then missed a shot, but Lin dribbled out the shot clock under pressure from Danny Green, giving the Spurs another chance. Carlos Delfino blocked a shot by Tim Duncan to send it to overtime tied at 120.
Lin couldn't really enjoy his big game because it didn't help Houston get the win.
"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," he said. "I had the ball to win it and didn't even get a shot up. That one hurt."
Asik had a career-high 21 points and added 10 rebounds, and Chandler Parsons scored 20 for Houston.
The game was tied when Neal and Parsons got into what looked like a 3-point shooting contest. Neal hit one before Parsons made two straight for Houston. Neal made a second before Parsons added another to put Houston up 116-113 with 3 1/2 minutes to go.
Lin heated up late in the third quarter and continued his surge in the fourth, scoring six points during a 9-2 run to help Houston extend its lead to 102-93 less than two minutes into the final quarter.
The Spurs trailed by seven when Lin went to the bench with under 10 minutes remaining. They used a 10-2 spurt while Lin was out, powered by five points from Parker, to tie it at 107 before he returned with about six minutes left.
San Antonio led by seven after a reverse layup by Parker with about 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Lin scored seven straight points for Houston to tie it at 88 just over a minute later. Neal made a 3-pointer on the other end before the Rockets closed out the quarter with two free throws by Marcus Morris and a 3-pointer by Lin to take a 93-91 lead.
Duncan left the game after picking up his fourth foul with just over 10 minutes remaining in the third and didn't return until the start of the fourth.
Parker contended that his triple-double was helped by Duncan's foul trouble.
"Timmy was in foul trouble so I figured I'd pick up the slack on the boards," the 6-foot-2 Parker said before doubling over with laughter. "It was just one of those games where I was trying to help out."
Houston was up by three with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter before using an 11-4 run to extend the lead to 42-32 a couple of minutes later. The Rockets were still up by 10 later in the quarter when San Antonio scored eight straight points, with four from Parker, to cut the lead to 49-47.
The Spurs had taken a three-point lead later in the second before Toney Douglas hit a shot as time expired in the first half to get Houston within 64-63 at halftime.