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 Parker leads Spurs in 126-121 win over Pacers

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PostSubject: Parker leads Spurs in 126-121 win over Pacers   Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:25 pm

INDIANAPOLIS(AP) The San Antonio Spurs played
their worst defensive quarter of the season in the final 12 minutes
against the Indiana Pacers.Fortunately, for the Spurs, the
Pacers played poor defense the entire game. Indiana scored 40 points
and shot 70 percent in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs beat the
Pacers 126-121 on Friday night.The Spurs were happy to win, but shocked by their late defensive collapse."I
think I can count it on one hand the past five years how many teams
have scored 40 on us in a quarter,'' Spurs center Tim Duncan said.The Spurs got away with it because they had a 12-point lead going into the period and shot 55 percent overall.Tony
Parker had 31 points and 10 assists, Duncan had 22 points and 11
rebounds, Michael Finley scored 18 points and Drew Gooden added 17 for
the Spurs, who now trail Denver by half a game in the scramble for the
No. 2 seed in the West."We're trying to get some momentum
going,'' Duncan said. "We haven't played well for the last 20 games.
We're in a heck of a race in the West. We're just trying to hold onto
our position and gain some confidence going into the playoffs.''Parker
said the team isn't quite where it needs to be. Coach Gregg Popovich is
trying to balance pushing the team to a higher seed while trying to
figure out how he'll manage his team during the postseason."I
still think we can be better, and I think Pop is still choosing his
rotation and who he's going to play for the playoffs,'' Parker said.Danny
Granger scored 35 points for the Pacers, his fourth straight game with
at least 30 points. Jarrett Jack scored 22 points, and Troy Murphy
added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who fell four games
behind Chicago for the No. 8 spot in the East.Indiana coach Jim O'Brien isn't focusing on the playoff race anymore."To
tell you the truth, it's in the back of my mind,'' he said. "We're
playing to get better, and if we have to play for pride, that's not a
bad thing to play for.''Indiana shot an impressive 52 percent from the field and still lost."They're a tough team to guard, but I thought we let ourselves down defensively,'' O'Brien said.The
Pacers overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half to lead several
times in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs rallied to snap a two-game
losing streak. The Spurs were coming off an embarrassing home loss to
Oklahoma City.San Antonio led by 12 at the end of the third
quarter, and the Spurs appeared to be cruising until the Pacers started
connecting from long range. Granger and Jack made back-to-back threes
to cut San Antonio's lead to 104-101 with just over six minutes left.
Murphy made a 3-pointer, then Granger gave the Pacers their first lead
of the second half on a layup with 5:29 to play."They hit some
shots,'' Duncan said. "They hit some great shots. They spread the
floor, and Troy and Danny and Jarrett hit some big shots that got them
back into it. We had some defensive breakdowns, but give them credit
for playing well.''Parker answered Indiana's push with a
3-pointer from the left wing, then a long 2-pointer to put the Spurs up
120-117 with a minute to play.Jack missed a 27-foot jumper and
Ginobili rebounded. On the other end, Ginobili missed a 3-pointer as
the shot clock wound down, but Duncan's soft one-handed tip went in to
give the Spurs a 122-117 lead with 31 seconds left.Finley made
two free throws for the Spurs, then Indiana's T.J. Ford was fouled on a
made layup with 13 seconds to play. He missed the free throw, but
Duncan secured the rebound. Ginobili made both free throws with 9
seconds left to put the game out of reach.Gooden, who had his best offensive game as a Spur, said the team knows how to win close games."That's
what we've been doing,'' he said. "When the going gets tough, we have I
think, some championship caliber basketball to get us back into games
and have a chance to win them.''Though the Spurs aren't playing their best, Duncan said the team has intensity it needs at this time of the year."Absolutely now,'' he said. "Could I have answered that question differently five games ago? Probably.''The Spurs are closing in on the No. 2 seed with little fanfare."It's always that way,'' Duncan said. "We're just trying to take care of our own stuff.''Notes:
Indiana rookies Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert combined for 14 of the
team's 30 points in the first quarter. ... Indiana G Marquis Daniels
sat out with a sprained right wrist. ... San Antonio G George Hill, an
Indianapolis native, entered the game with 4:08 left in the third
quarter. He scored his only basket on a putback with eight minutes to
play.

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