AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 20 (Ticker)
-- The San Antonio Spurs showed
the Detroit Pistons they are more than Tim Duncan
. But they
sure could have used him down the stretch.
After losing Duncan to a severely sprained ankle, the Spurs
battled with their bench but came up short in a 110-101 loss to
the Pistons, who have won 12 straight home games and five
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scored 25 points and Tayshaun Prince
for the Pistons (42-23), who gained a split of the season series
that could be a possible NBA Finals preview.
"Maybe we'll see them in June," Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace
said. "It was nothing extra special. It was just a little
get-back from when we played them earlier in the season when we
didn't have our stuff right."
However, the game lost lots of its luster when Duncan,
considered by many the best player in the NBA, crumpled to the
floor after twisting his right ankle less than two minutes into
The two-time MVP had to be helped off the floor and into the
locker room. Although X-rays were negative, Duncan left the
arena on crutches and returned to San Antonio, where he will be
further examined. He is expected to miss at least the last two
games of San Antonio's three-game trip.
"It's the same ankle that he sprained a couple weeks ago, but
this was much worse," said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich
scoffed at the idea that Duncan is day-to-day. "It's going to
be a while."
Pistons owner Bill Davidson offered one of his private planes to
the Spurs so Duncan could fly back to Texas immediately.
"That's the kind of camaraderie that makes the NBA feel like a
family," Popovich said. "There's the competition, and we all
want to beat each other, but no one wants to see something like
that happen. We were very impressed by the gesture, and we
appreciate it very much. I'm sure Timmy does as well."
Without Duncan, the Spurs (50-16) got their offense by committee
as six players scored between 12 and 18 points. In the fourth
quarter, they made a charge with a lineup of five reserves led
by guards Devin Brown
and rookie Beno Udrih
"They have played this (unit) a lot this year, and they have the
second-best record in the league," Pistons assistant coach Gar
Heard said. "Duncan has missed games before, and it has not hurt
them too much. I think teams have a tendency to let down a
little when Tim is not on the court, and I think maybe we did
that initially. We picked it up late in the second half, and
then again in the fourth quarter."
A 3-pointer by veteran reserve Robert Horry
cut the deficit to
99-97 with 3:26 to go. The Spurs had a chance to tie, but Rasho Nesterovic
committed a turnover, then fouled Billups as he made
a layup. The ensuing free throw made it 102-97 with 2:21 left.
"Every time we got close, they'd hit a basket and one, or we
would miss a wide-open shot or turn the ball over," said Spurs
guard Tony Parker
, who scored 12 points but sat and watched most
of the fourth quarter. "We kept getting close, but we could
never do it."
Udrih and Brown missed open jumpers before Billups scored inside
with 58 seconds to play. Udrih missed a 3-pointer and Billups
and Prince each sank a pair of free throws to seal it.
Wallace scored 16 points for the Pistons, who also had six
players in double figures. Detroit's home winning streak is its
longest since a 12-game run in the 1990-91 season, when it also
was the defending NBA champion.
"We've got a nice little streak going at home, feeding off the
crowd," said Ben Wallace
, who had eight points, nine rebounds
and four blocks. "As long we continue to play with a lot of
energy and effort, we'll be all right."
Brown scored 18 points and Udrih added 15 for the Spurs, who
welcomed back All-Star guard Manu Ginobili
but had a three-game
winning streak snapped. Ginobili, who missed the last five
games with a groin strain, scored 14 points in just 16 minutes.
San Antonio had been 69-2 when scoring at least 100 points until
earlier this month. It is 1-2 since, with both losses coming
"We've played without him before, and we just have to keep
going," Parker said. "It's not like we have a choice. Our other
big guys will have to do more and the rest of us will have to