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Duncan helps clinch playoffs for Spurs, Mavs

3/26/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After clinching their 11th trip to the
playoffs in the past 12 years, the San Antonio Spurs weren't really
thinking about the postseason.

The Spurs, who ran their winning streak to 13 with a 91-85
victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, have some
regular-season business remaining.

"We're trying to get to a point where we can challenge the
Lakers and Kings. We're still jockeying for position, and we really
feel like we can get the best record if we continue to play well,"
said David Robinson, who had 19 points to go with teammate Tim
Duncan's 33 points and 13 rebounds.

"We've clinched a playoff spot, but we want to keep our streak
going," Robinson said of the NBA's longest win string of the
season.

The Spurs are 49-21, behind only the Sacramento Kings (49-19)
and Los Angeles Lakers (49-20) in the race for the best
regular-season record and home-court advantage through the
playoffs.

The Clippers, who have lost 17 of their last 18 against the
Spurs, made it tough for them in the latest matchup.

Los Angeles led by 13 four minutes into the third quarter before
Duncan scored points on a pair of three-point plays to start the
Spurs on an 18-8 run that pulled them within three late in the
period.

San Antonio finally moved ahead to stay on Robinson's slam dunk
and free throw that made it 84-82 with 3:21 left.

Michael Olowokandi had 26 points and 17 rebounds for the
Clippers, who remained 2 1/2 games behind Utah for the West's final
playoff berth.

Elton Brand had 15 points and 10 rebounds, his 50th
double-double of the season and four short of the Clippers'
franchise record.

"That was a scrappy game," Duncan said. "They came out with a
lot of energy and really pushed us. We did a great job and stayed
with it and kept grinding away and found a way to win."

The Clippers' Eric Piatkowski said, "San Antonio is playing
better ball than anybody else in the league right now. They're a
great team, so they're going to have a run on you. They got back in
the game and we weren't able to hold on."

Olowokandi had 12 points in the third quarter for the Clippers,
who opened their biggest lead of the game -- 62-49 -- on Jeff
McInnis' three-point play.

But then Duncan started the spurt that narrowed the gap to 70-67
six minutes later. Olowokandi hit an 8-foot hook to give Los
Angeles a 72-67 lead heading into the final quarter, which was
nip-and-tuck until the Spurs opened their biggest lead of the game
in the closing moments.

The Spurs were without guards Steve Smith, a late scratch
because of a sprained right ankle, and Terry Porter, who went on
the injured list with a strained right calf.

Brand had 13 points and eight rebounds in the first half, and
Olowokandi added 10 points and seven rebounds as Los Angeles led
49-45 at halftime.

Duncan had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Robinson had 12
points to help the Spurs keep it close in the first half. Los
Angeles led by as much as nine points, 49-40, before the Spurs
narrowed the gap in the final 1:34 of the half.

San Antonio led 25-24 at the end of the first quarter, moving
ahead late in the period after the Clippers jumped to a quick 12-4
lead to open the game.

The Spurs' victory also lifted Dallas into the playoffs in the
West.

Game notes
The Spurs activated G-F Stephen Jackson from the
disabled list to replace Porter on the active roster. Jackson had
been sidelined because of a sprained right thumb. ... The last time
the Clippers won at home against the Spurs was Dec. 4, 1997, a
100-96 overtime victory. Since then, the Clippers have lost eight
straight to San Antonio in Los Angeles. ...The crowd of 20,128 was
the Clippers' 11th consecutive sellout and 20th of the season. The
previous franchise high for consecutive sellouts was five, and the
record for sellouts in a season was 11, set last year. They've sold
out 28 of their last 52 home games after selling out just 26 of
their previous 255 home games, dating back to Feb. 1, 2001.