SEATTLE, May 12 (Ticker) -- The Seattle SuperSonics benefited from the San Antonio Spurs' inability to take advantage of what was free.

The Spurs struggled badly at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and Tim Duncan missed a short shot in the lane in the final seconds, allowing the SuperSonics to escape with a 92-91 and climb back into the Western Conference semifinals.

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After losing the first two games by double digits, the Sonics returned home and battled the entire way in the most physical game of the series, getting plenty of help from the Spurs along the way.

Nick Collison's basket inside with 2:30 remaining gave the Sonics the lead for good at 90-88. Duncan split two free throws 15 seconds later, a familiar sight in the fourth quarter for the Spurs. The star was 5-of-8 at the line in the final period and 9-of-15 overall.

Antonio Daniels made two free throws with 1:59 remaining for a three-point lead before Manu Ginobili managed to go 1-of-2 at the line 13 seconds later, pulling the Spurs within 92-90.

Ginobili returned to the line with 29 seconds left but again only split two free throws, bringing the Spurs within 92-91.

San Antonio went a woeful 8-of-16 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and finished 19-of-34 overall. An All-Star, Ginobili - an 80 percent free-throw shooter in the regular season - went just 3-of-6 in the fourth quarter.

"Our performance at the free-throw line was a single-handed great way to lose a game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"We know we aren't the best free-throw shooting team in the league," Ginobili said. "Still, we had so many chances at winning it, so we have to take an optimistic point of view."

All-Star Ray Allen, held scoreless in the fourth quarter, missed a tough jumper from the baseline and Robert Horry grabbed the rebound with 2.9 seconds left, giving the Spurs a final chance.

Following a timeout, Duncan took an inbounds pass from Ginobili and came across the lane, but his four-foot turnaround shot bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.

"Got where I wanted to get, and I had a great look at it," Duncan said. "Unfortunately, it didn't drop for me."

"I knew they only had two seconds, so I knew I had to push him out as far as I could," said Vitaly Potapenko, who defended Duncan on the final play. "I tried to avoid the foul because I knew the two free throws would really hurt us. ... I knew I couldn't block it, but I just had to maintain position."

Allen scored 20 points and Daniels 10 of his 18 in the fourth quarter for the third-seeded Sonics, who host Game Four on Sunday.

The Sonics were able to find a way down the stretch despite playing the final 3:34 of the contest without forward Rashard Lewis, who suffered a sprained left big toe. Allen and Vladimir Radmanovic both suffered sprained right ankles in Game 1 Sunday. Radmanovic is not expected to return for the series.

"Tonight, it worked out for us," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "We didn't want to give up anything easy, and they missed a few free throws in the fourth quarter. I felt like we got a break there."

Allen also struggled in the fourth quarter, missing all six of his shots to finish 6-of-23 overall. He did score eight points in a back-and-forth third quarter that ended tied at 75-75.

Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Ginobili and Tony Parker each scored 18 for second-seeded San Antonio.

Last season, the Spurs won the first two games of the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Lakers before dropping the next four contests.

Duncan came out aggressive in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of his team's first 10 points. His jumper with 5:57 left gave the Spurs an 85-82 lead.

After Jerome James, who had his best game of the series, threw down a dunk for the Sonics, Parker scored on a drive to the basket with 4:27 left for an 87-84 edge.

James, a surprising force in the first round against Sacramento, made all seven of his shots and scored 15 points before fouling out with 1:46 remaining. He managed just 12 points on 6-of-17 shooting in the first two games of the series.

Parker had a chance to extend the lead with 4:01 left but promptly missed two free throws. He went just 2-of-6 at the line.

"We hurt ourselves. We didn't help ourselves at all," Parker said. "We threw it away with missing free throws."

Daniels made four free throws around 1-of-2 from the line from Ginobili, tying the game at 88-88 with 2:58 left.

Daniels, a former Spur, and Collison led a solid bench effort the Sonics, who held a 34-33 edge in bench points.

In the first quarter, Ginobili came off the bench to score nine points. He entered the game at the 7:37 mark with the Spurs trailing, 11-6, but helped San Antonio take a 29-21 lead.

Ginobili also was the recipient of a flagrant foul by Danny Fortson with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. Later in the game, he was on the end of hard foul by Potapenko.

"We played the game they played in Games 1 and 2. They were the aggressors," McMillan said. "They were the team that played the most physical in the first two games. They had us on our heels, were more aggressive and went right at us. We came out with a sense of urgency and were aggressive on both ends of the floor."

"It's a contact sport and both the teams are going to be aggressive and physical," Popovich said. "That's just what's to be expected."

The Spurs led by as many as 10 points in the second quarter before settling for a 51-49 edge at the break. San Antonio shot 54 percent (21-of-39) in the first half.

Seattle stayed in the game by making 19-of-23 free throws in the half while San Antonio was 6-of-7.