National Basketball Association

Duncan leads short-handed Spurs over Hawks, 99-97

by The Associated Press

alt

AP Photo/Darren Abate

San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, right, shoots over Atlanta Hawks' Johan Petro, of France, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tim Duncan is enjoying a renaissance in his 16th NBA season. The San Antonio Spurs All-Star just calls it a case of experience trumping youth.

"I'm old, but I'm slow," he said. "So I think I trick people into kind of coming into a certain territory and I've gotten a couple (of blocked shots)."

Whatever Duncan is doing, San Antonio is immensely grateful because once again he saved them.

Duncan had 31 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to help the short-handed San Antonio Spurs escape with a 99-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Kawhi Leonard added 23 points and DeJuan Blair had 11 for San Antonio, which clinched the Southwest Division title for the third straight year and 19th time in franchise history.

The Spurs were without Tony Parker (neck) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring strain), who sat out the game with injuries. They also lost Boris Diaw, who left midway through the second quarter with back spasms.

Still, San Antonio struggled against an Atlanta team that opted to sit four of its top-five scorers in the second game of a back-to-back.

"Well, Tim Duncan saved us," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's such a professional. We're so lucky to have him here for as long as we have. He's an ultimate professional and he rose above a lot to do it.

Rookies John Jenkins (23 points) and Mike Scott (22) had career highs to lead Atlanta, which has lost three straight. Ivan Johnson added 14 points, Shelvin Mack had 12, and Johan Petro had 11 points and 15 rebounds.

San Antonio was 3 for 15 on 3 pointers, but still managed to win its 15th straight at home against Atlanta.

The Spurs needed a late rebound to seal the victory.

Dahntay Jones was awarded three free throws after Cory Joseph stepped in front of him as he attempted to heave a 3-pointer with 1 second left. Jones purposely missed the third after making the first two free throws to pull Atlanta within 99-97, but Leonard grabbed the rebound to prevent a game-tying tip-in.

"We're not in a great rhythm right now," Duncan said. "Honestly, the injuries are hurting us right now. We lost some close ones for a little while and that can push you over the top or that can set you back a little bit. We've been set back a little bit, but we won the game, that's the good part."

Hawks coach Larry Drew elected not to play Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Devin Harris in the second game of a back-to-back.

Not that they would receive any sympathy from the Spurs.

Parker left two minutes into the fourth quarter of San Antonio's 100-88 loss at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night after experiencing pain in his left shin. Popovich was "very concerned" about Parker's injury, saying he believed it could be tendinitis, but team officials said his absence Saturday was due to his neck.

Ginobili missed his fifth straight game after straining his right hamstring in the first quarter of San Antonio's 104-102 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on March 29.

Nando De Colo, a 25-year-old rookie from France, had six points, seven rebounds and three assists while playing 22 minutes in his fifth career start.

Duncan played limited minutes early, but finished with 32 as the Spurs needed him down the stretch.

"In general, other than Timmy, in a lot of ways it was a pathetic performance," Popovich said. "That kind of play isn't going to get us very far at the end of the season. It's not the first time we've played like that in the last few weeks. This team needs to get its head around itself and understand what it takes to be there, because as a group, they don't have it right now."

Duncan was limited to eight minutes in the first quarter, grabbing five rebounds and scoring four points on 3-for-5 shooting. He did not re-enter until 7 minutes remained in the half, but had an immediate impact. Duncan had 12 points, three rebounds, three blocks and two assists as the Spurs closed the half on a 22-12 run.

With Horford sitting, 6-foot-8 forward Ivan Johnson primarily guarded Duncan.

"He was up pressuring, but Tim is still Tim," Drew said. "Tim's still good. He's as good as they are in the low post. He takes his time and he is very, very patient with what he wants to do down in the post. He's still a terrific player."

Leonard drove the length of the court in 3.3 seconds for a layup to give San Antonio a 51-40 lead at the break.

NOTES: Horford did not play due to a coach's decision. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds in 39 minutes during the Hawks' 101-90 loss to Philadelphia on Friday. ... San Antonio C Aron Baynes was assigned to the team's developmental league team, the Austin Toros, on Friday. ... Harris (sore left foot), C Zaza Pachulia (sore right Achilles) and G Lou Williams (torn ACL, right knee) missed the game with injuries.



More Sports

High School Basketball

Central teams head to national tournaments

By DOUG GORMAN dgorman@newnan.com Central Christian's first basketball season as a member of the Alabama Christian Sports Conference will g ... Read More


High School Baseball

Vikings, Indians earn region victories

Rain held off Monday long enough for Northgate and East Coweta baseball teams to earn victories in region play, the latter after moving Tues ... Read More


High School Soccer

Northgate, Newnan sweep region foes; Lady Indians hold on in PKs

Soccer lineups from Northgate and Newnan turned in region victories in sloppy conditions on Tuesday. Northgate swept Ola on the road, while ... Read More


High School Lacrosse

Lady Cougars win season opener

Newnan's girls lacrosse team dominated North Cobb in a 17-6 victory at Drake Stadium last Friday to open the 2015 season. Kristal Boyd match ... Read More


High School Baseball

Trinity pitching duo combine for 11 Ks in opening win

Trinity baseball coach Brian Chmielewski wasn’t sure what to expect Saturday when the Lions opened the 2015 season against visiting Fl ... Read More

High School Baseball

Cougars fall at Northside

Newnan followed up a late victory over Chapel Hill with an early morning trip to Columbus, and the results Saturday saw a sluggish Cougars t ... Read More