Spurs Buckle Down, Wear Down Warriors
San Antonio 107, Golden State 96
SAN ANTONIO, March 21 (Ticker) -- Tony Parker shined down the stretch to keep the San Antonio Spurs a small step ahead in the best race in the NBA.
Parker scored 13 of his 29 points in the final period as the Spurs pulled away for their 13th win in 15 contests, a 107-96 triumph over the Golden State Warriors.
San Antonio's resolve will be put to the test as it begins a five-game road swing at Northwest Division-leading Denver on Wednesday.
"I felt confident tonight, and hopefully that will continue," Parker said. "We have five really tough games coming up. Tomorrow night's game will be a tough one coming off a back-to-back. Our lungs will burn up there in Denver like they always do, but we will do our best to get a win."
"It's always good to get a win before going out on the road for 10 days," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs were ahead, 88-85, with just over four minutes remaining when Parker found Tim Duncan with a lob pass for an easy dunk. Duncan collected 21 points and 13 rebounds.
"I thought we played well enough to get the win," Duncan said. "When you penetrate and pump fake on shots like we did, the defense moves with you and it creates open shots. Tony was great tonight again, like he has been all season."
After a jumper by San Antonio's Michael Finley, Parker began a stretch in which he scored nine points in two minutes with a layup that made it 94-85 at the 2:42 mark. He added a jumper and three-point play before connecting on a pair of free throws with 43 seconds to go that gave the hosts a 105-92 advantage.
San Antonio found itself down in the third quarter and lost its coach at the 7:06 mark when Popovich was ejected by referee Ed Malloy for arguing what he thought was rough treatment of Duncan. Assistant P.J. Carlesimo guided the team thereafter.
"We were not playing well there in the third quarter," Parker said. "Pop went out there and took one for the team. We came back strong in the fourth quarter. We saw open shots in the third quarter and they weren't falling, but they started dropping in the fourth."
"In the second half, we got progressively better and got it done," Popovich said. "I thought P.J. Carlesimo and the staff were great tonight. I thought Tony Parker was super leading the way there in the second half."
Golden State, which had won three of its last four games, held a 63-58 lead midway through the third quarter on a jumper by Jason Richardson, who scored 20 points.
The Spurs rallied to take a 72-70 edge entering the fourth quarter but could not get any separation until reserve Beno Udrih - getting increased minutes because of an injury to Nick Van Exel - scored the last of his 13 points on a 3-pointer for an 82-74 advantage with 9:32 to go.
"With more minutes, I am just trying to play my game," Udrih said. "When I'm open, I am just trying to hit the open shot and tonight it was falling. I know if I give 110 percent, good things will happen."
"I thought Beno gave us a lot out there on the court tonight," Popovich said.
The Warriors fought back behind Derek Fisher, who scored a season-high 27 points. Golden State closed within three points on two occasions, the last at 88-85 on Fisher's two free throws with 4:59 on the clock.
"I've played some good games in this building, and when I play here I always push it," Fisher said.