Al Bello/Getty Images/NBAE
Tony Parker opened the fourth quarter Sunday with seven assists -- as many as the Nets tallied at that point. San Antonio outdished New Jersey 16-8 to help itself to a ninth straight win.
San Antonio 93, New Jersey 83
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 1 (AP) -- Tony Parker wouldn't allow the San Antonio Spurs' season-high winning streak to end.
Parker hit two clutch fourth-quarter baskets to highlight a 25-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance in leading the Spurs to their ninth straight victory, 93-83 over the New Jersey Nets on Sunday night.
"He finishes games nicely, making shots in the fourth quarter that he's not making in the first half," said Nets point guard Devin Harris, who played Parker many times while with Dallas. "That's what makes him so tough. You've got to remember that he was an NBA Finals MVP and he knows how to finish."
After the Nets got within 81-75 with less than five minutes to play, Parker hit a jumper and then spun in the lane for a layup to help San Antonio beat the Nets for the 10th straight time, a steak that dates to November 2002.
"Tony Parker was really great running the team, changing up between shooting jumpers, getting to the bucket and distributing the ball," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He did a fine job in that regard."
He also had help.
Tim Duncan added 13 points and 14 rebounds, Manu Ginobili had 17 points and Ime Udoka scored 13 as San Antonio maintained a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the Western Conference. The Lakers beat Dallas 108-104 in overtime earlier Sunday.
"These road wins are very important," said Parker, who recently returned to the lineup after missing nine games with an ankle injury. "The race in the West is very tight. You can't afford too many tough losses on the road or against teams that you should win against. It was very important to stay focused and take advantage."
San Antonio never trailed after the opening seconds and seemingly kept New Jersey at an arm's length in a game in which both teams complained about the lack of foul calls.
Duncan was so mad after driving across the lane on a layup attempt in the fourth quarter that he screamed an expletive at referee Ed Malloy, telling him to call a foul.
Malloy obliged Duncan by giving him a quick technical and the Nets made their final run. Carter made the technical, Jefferson hit two free throws after being fouled by Duncan at the other end, and Carter followed with a jumper to cut the Spurs' lead to 81-75.
Parker came to the rescue. He came off a Duncan screen and hit a jumper, then made his spinning layup and an 85-75 lead with 4:06 to play.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and make sure we got the win," said Parker, who was 10-of-18 from the field. "I was trying to get to the basket."
After Carter's basket, Bruce Bowen hit a 3-pointer from the left corner and Parker drove the lane for a basket and a 90-77 lead that sent the fans to the to exits.
"Letting Tony Parker get into the heart of our defense late was what hurt us," Carter said.
Kurt Thomas got his first start for San Antonio and scored all six of his points in the opening minutes, helping the Spurs take an 18-7 lead.
New Jersey got within 43-39 late in the second quarter, but Parker scored five points in a 10-4 run that put San Antonio up by 10 at the half.
After New Jersey cut it to 63-57 late in the third quarter, former Net Jacque Vaughn drove the baseline for a reverse layup that helped give the Spurs an 11-point lead entering the final quarter.
The Nets shot 34.6 percent from the field, making 27 of 78. They were actually better from 3-point range, going 8-of-18, or 44.4 percent.
"We missed a lot of great shots, especially early," Carter said. "It's frustrating when you get the shot that you want against a team like that. You want to make them pay and it didn't happen tonight."
Notes: Thomas, who was acquired in a trade with Seattle, was a late addition to the Spurs' starting lineup, replacing Fabricio Oberto. ... Nets backup forward Bostjan Nachbar missed the second half with a strained left hip flexor. ... Actress Eva Longoria, Parker's wife, sat near the Spurs' bench. ...The Spurs' longest winning streak last season was 13, around this time of year. ... Harris played almost 36 minutes off the bench in his second game since joining the Nets and notched his second straight 21-point night.