Duncan’s 34 leads Spurs past Clippers
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs All-Star Tim Duncan is a man of little emotion and even fewer words.
The Los Angeles Clippers brought out a demonstrative side rarely seen from the 16-year veteran and it helped lead to their downfall.
Duncan had a season-high 34 points, including a game-winning three-point play with 2.2 seconds left, and San Antonio outlasted Los Angeles 104-102 on Friday night.
Sparked by a pair of hard fouls in the second quarter, Duncan was 12 for 19 from field and also had 11 rebounds in leading San Antonio (55-17) to its seventh straight home victory.
“There was a stretch where they put the whistle away,” Duncan said. “It gave me a little energy to kind of play a little harder. I got some shots to go early and it just kind of snowballed from there.”
Tony Parker added 24 points and eight assists, and Tiago Splitter had 14 points for San Antonio.
The Spurs extended their lead in the Western Conference to 2½ games over Oklahoma City, which lost 101-93 to Minnesota.
Blake Griffin scored 18 points, Jamal Crawford added 16 and Chris Paul had 14 for the Clippers (49-24), who remain fourth in the West. Caron Butler added 11 points and Willie Green had 10.
With San Antonio trailing 102-101 with 7 seconds remaining, Duncan was fouled by Willie Green on a 16-foot jumper. Duncan yelled after making the jumper, tugging at the front of his jersey and nearly walking to the opposite free throw line in celebration.
Duncan made the ensuing free throw to give San Antonio the final winning margin. He finished 10 for 10 on free throws and had three assists and two blocks.
“Well, you just look at his line and just be amazed that he’s doing what he’s doing,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But he’s done the work to put himself in the position to have games like this and to have the season that he’s had. You couldn’t be more proud of the guy tonight on what he did out there.”
Paul missed a seven-foot jumper on the final possession that would have won the game, but Duncan’s jumper bothered him more.
“He traveled,” Paul said. “I can say that, right? He traveled. I just looked at the film. He traveled. He made an unbelievable shot, though. We have to do better. I’m not trying to take anything away from him. It was an unbelievable big-time shot. That’s why he’s one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. But, he traveled.”
The Clippers set up the tense finale by erasing a seven-point deficit in the final six minutes.
Crawford’s 3 tied the game at 99. Griffin blocked a short jumper by Splitter, resulting in a three-foot floater by Paul with 35.2 seconds left for a 101-99 lead.
Duncan’s layup tied the game at 101 off an assist from Parker, who was momentarily dazed when he was struck in the neck by DeAndre Jordan’s knee as he released the ball.
Parker was then charged with a dead ball foul when he grabbed Paul’s jersey prior to the inbound play. Paul made the free throw to give the Clippers a 102-101 lead to set up Duncan’s shot.
Los Angeles failed to get a shot off on the ensuing possession when Boris Diaw stripped Paul on a drive and Griffin was forced to toss up a five-foot jumper that failed to draw iron.
“The biggest play of the game was probably when we were up one, I had the ball and I didn’t even get a shot attempt up,” Paul said. “That’s terrible. You can’t do that. You’re up one; you have to at least get a shot up on the rim. If I make that shot, now it’s a three-point game.”
Duncan then made the game-winning shot.
“We’ve got to do a better job as a team making it harder, especially when he’s got it going like that,” Griffin said of Duncan.
The emotion for that game-winner was sparked midway through the second quarter when Duncan received a two-handed push from Ryan Hollins as he drove to the basket for a one-handed dunk. The Spurs’ All-Star forward hung on the rim briefly to steady himself, but no flagrant was called as the fans howled in protest.
“It was very physical,” Duncan said, “especially against them. They’re athletic. They’re big. They’re strong. They’re very competitive.”
No foul was called when Duncan tumbled to the floor on San Antonio’s ensuing possession after three defenders charged at him. Popovich ran down the sideline grabbing his arm and yelling for a foul as Los Angeles sprinted up the court on the turnover, resulting in a technical. Duncan also protested the non-call, but was not whistled.
“If he did (get a technical), I deserved it,” Duncan said. “I wasn’t going to argue that.”
The action sparked Duncan, who scored San Antonio’s next 10 points to tie the game at 57 with 1:35 left in the first half.
“We’ll probably see them down the way (in the playoffs),” Griffin said. “We can learn from this. We’ll see what we did well and we’ll see what we didn’t do well. Hopefully we’ll learn from those mistakes. We’ll just try to take that and make it something positive.”
HEAT 109, HORNETS 109
NEW ORLEANS — LeBron James scored 36 points, hitting six consecutive 3-pointers in less than six minutes during the first half, and the Miami Heat rebounded from their first loss in nearly two months.
The Heat, whose 27-game winning streak ended in Chicago on Wednesday, looked ready to start a new one while clinching the top seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs. James kept shooting 3-pointers after making his first one with 1:55 left in the first quarter, and he did not miss until he already had set a season high with his sixth.
James finished with seven 3s, one shy of his career high. Dwyane Wade added 17 points and seven assists. Norris Cole scored 12 points and Chris Bosh 10.
SPURS 104, CLIPPERS 102
SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan had a season-high 34 points, including a game-winning three-point play with 2.2 seconds left, and San Antonio won its seventh straight game at home.
Duncan also had 11 rebounds for San Antonio (55-17), Tony Parker added 24 points and eight assists, and Tiago Splitter had 14 points.
Blake Griffin had 18 points, Jamal Crawford added 16, Chris Paul had 14, Caron Butler 11 and Willie Green had 10 for Los Angeles.
The Spurs extended their lead in the Western Conference to 2½ games over Oklahoma City, which lost 101-93 to Minnesota.
TIMBERWOLVES 101, THUNDER 93
MINNEAPOLIS — Nikola Pekovic had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Ricky Rubio added 17 points and seven assists to help Minnesota stun Oklahoma City.
Chase Budinger scored 13 points off the bench and Andrei Kirilenko played superb defense on Thunder star Kevin Durant in the second half to help the Wolves deal the Thunder an unexpected setback in their pursuit of the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Durant had 36 points and seven rebounds, but was just 4 for 9 in the final 22 minutes. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and nine assists for the Thunder.
CELTICS 118, HAWKS 107
BOSTON — Paul Pierce had 20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and Jeff Green scored 27 points to carry Boston to the victory over Atlanta.
Jason Terry was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers and finished with 24 points for Boston, which won its second straight following a five-game losing streak.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 18 points but shot just 7 of 23 from the floor and 0 for 6 in the second half. Jeff Teague added 17 points and seven assists.
The Celtics, who closed to 1½ games behind the Hawks for the Eastern Conference’s sixth playoff spot, won the season series 3-1.
NUGGETS 109, NETS 87
DENVER — Rookie Evan Fournier scored a season-high 19 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and Denver extended its home winning streak to 18 games.
Denver improved to 33-3 at the Pepsi Center this season, the best home record in the league.
Wilson Chandler had 16 points and Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufos added 13 points apiece for the Nuggets, who are one win shy of matching their longest home winning streak since Jan. 28-April 20, 1989, despite missing injured point guard Ty Lawson. He was ruled out for the third time in four games after an exam Thursday of his strained heel also revealed a plantar fascia tear in his right foot.
Deron Williams scored 19 points for the Nets, who missed a chance for their team-record 21st road win of the season. It was the Nets’ sixth consecutive loss to the Nuggets in Denver.
JAZZ 105, TRAIL BLAZERS 95
PORTLAND, Ore. — Mo Williams scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half, and Utah rallied with a 19-3 run in the final minutes to beat Portland and draw even with the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Paul Millsap added 25 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz (37-36) snapped a nine-game losing streak on the road, their longest since dropping 17 straight in the 1981-82 season.
The Blazers (33-39) dropped 3½ games back with their third straight loss.
Portland, playing without forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained right ankle, got 24 points from rookie Damian Lillard. J.J. Hickson added 17 points and 14 rebounds.
GRIZZLIES 103, ROCKETS 94
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol scored 21 points apiece and Memphis snapped a two-game losing streak.
Randolph added 12 rebounds, Tony Allen scored 16 points, connecting on 8 of 12 shots, and Mike Conley finished with 15 points and 10 assists.
Allen also had a strong defensive effort in limiting the Rockets’ James Harden to seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. Harden came into the game fifth in the league in scoring with a 26.2 average.
Chandler Parsons and Donatas Motiejunas led the Rockets with 16 points apiece, despite not playing in the fourth quarter as Houston coach Kevin McHale used his reserves to try to put more pressure on the Grizzlies defensively. Carlos Delfino had 15 points for Houston, while James Anderson scored 10.
KNICKS 111, BOBCATS 102
NEW YORK — J.R. Smith scored 37 points, his third consecutive 30-point outing, and New York beat Charlotte for its season-high seventh straight victory.
Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and Raymond Felton added 18 for the Knicks, who have the longest current streak in the NBA. They built a 30-point lead that was reduced to single digits for the second game in a row.
Gerald Henderson tied a career high with 35 points for the Bobcats. Kemba Walker added 16, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 14 and Ben Gordon finished with 12.
Smith had 23 points at halftime, shooting 9 of 11 from the field.
MAGIC 97, WIZARDS 92
ORLANDO, Fla. — Tobias Harris had 30 points and 11 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic break an eight-game losing streak.
Maurice Harkless added 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while reserves E’Twaun Moore and Andrew Nicholson scored 15 and 14, respectively, for Orlando.
John Wall led the Wizards with 35 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Martell Webster was the only other Wizard in double figures, scoring 19.
Harris had the key basket, a 15-foot floater that gave the Magic a 93-88 lead with 1:22 left in the game.
Wall made two free throws to get the Wizards within 93-90, but after the Magic missed Wall couldn’t convert at the other end and the Magic sealed the win from the free throw line.
76ERS 97, CAVALIERS 87
CLEVELAND — Evan Turner scored 23 points and Philadelphia sent Cleveland to its season-high seventh straight loss.
Jrue Holiday had 20 points and Thaddeus Young added 18 for the Sixers, who are 2-16 on the road since Jan. 2. Philadelphia used a 20-2 run that began late in the second quarter and extended into the third to take control of the game. Turner, who had three points at halftime, scored 13 in the first seven minutes of the third quarter.
C.J. Miles scored 19 points for Cleveland, which had lost six in a row on two previous occasions. The Cavaliers played again without their starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving (bruised shoulder) and Dion Waiters (sore knee).
RAPTORS 99, PISTONS 82
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay scored 21 points apiece and Toronto ended a five-game skid by extending Detroit’s home losing streak to eight games.
The Raptors led 46-45 at the break and took control by outscoring Detroit 23-5 in the first eight minutes of the third period. Gay, who had just two points at halftime, scored 19 points during the third.
Amir Johnson added 20 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Jonas Jerebko scored 20 points to lead the Pistons, who also got 17 from rookie Andre Drummond.
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