HOUSTON, April 19 (Ticker) --
While Tim Duncan
and Tony Parker
the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs' bench capitalized on its
opportunity to shine.
scored 19 points and fellow reserve Michael Finley
added 17 as the Spurs held on for an 89-87 triumph over the
Houston Rockets in the regular-season finale for both teams.
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It was the fifth victory in the last six games for San Antonio
(63-19), which will face eighth-seeded Sacramento in the first
round of the Western Conference postseason.
"We got to play a lot of guys, and I thought a lot of people
played real well at both ends of the court," Spurs coach
said. "It was a good way to finish and the No. 1
priority, nobody got hurt."
"Talent-wise there may be some deeper teams, but we are the most
experienced team in the playoffs," Finley added. "We focused
on getting ourselves in this position, to be the No. 1 seed.
We're defending champs, and you have a lot of people against you
and high expectations for you."
scored 11 points and Nick Van Exel
chipped in 10
off the bench for the Spurs, who built a 43-36 halftime lead and
held on after the break to improve to 4-0 this season against
"It was a good opportunity for some of us to play a lot in the
game when the situation was close," Barry said. "We rested Tim
and Tony, and everybody else is in pretty good rhythm. We're
ready for 'Season Two.'"
Trailing, 88-87, with 18 seconds remaining, Houston (34-48) had
a chance to take the lead when Rafer Alston
drew a foul and a
trip to the free-throw line. But Alston missed both attempts
and San Antonio corralled the rebound to hold on.
scored 18 points and fellow reserve Luther Head
added 17 for the Rockets, who went just 15-26 at home this
"Winning teams get used to winning and do what it takes more
often than teams that don't win," Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy
said. "(The Spurs) are a model organization because of their
humility and class they show. You never see them beating their
chest, and that's from the ownership on down."