Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/19

Game 1: Friday, December 19th
Game 2: Thursday, February 5th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 3rd
Game 4: Wednesday, April 7th

Spurs 87


SuperSonics 73

(11-13, 6-7 home)

    Coverage: KENS

    7:30 PM ET, December 19, 2003

    Key Arena, Seattle, WA

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 25 26 20 1687
    SEA 9 20 29 1573

    Top Performers

    SA: T. Duncan 27 Pts, 20 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 Blk

    Sea: C. Booth 6 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 Blk

    Duncan has 27 points, 20 rebounds

    SEATTLE (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs have turned things around in a big way.

    Tim Duncan had 27 points and 20 rebounds, leading the Spurs to their ninth straight victory, 87-73 over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.

    The defending NBA champions improved their record to 18-10, including 7-7 on the road. They can tie the Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in the NBA this season with a win at Portland on Saturday night. Not bad for a team that lost four in a row prior to their current streak.

    "It was a good night for us," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Any win on the road is always good."

    Tony Parker scored 16 points and Manu Ginobili added 14 for the Spurs, who have their longest winning streak since they won 10 straight in the 2001-2002 season.

    The Sonics, who lost their third straight game, got 15 points from Ronald Murray, who shot a paltry 6-for-26, and 11 from rookie Luke Ridnour. Seattle's leading scorer, Rashard Lewis, played only 24 minutes and fouled out with 8:23 to go. Lewis had seven points and 10 rebounds.

    San Antonio beat Seattle for the fourth straight time.

    The Spurs have held their opponents to 73 points or less in six of the nine games.

    "Without our defense, we're going to struggle," Popovich said. "It's what we have to do to win. We're not great offensively. Timmy obviously is. But he doesn't have a whole crew to fit with him and make shots."

    Duncan, who also had four blocked shots, played a super-efficient 40 minutes, not looking like he was working too hard but getting plenty done nonetheless.

    Led by the 7-footer from the Virgin Islands, the Spurs are beginning to get comfortable with each other after the retirement of David Robinson.

    "I think everybody is relaxing and making an effort to get out there and stay within our system and do what we do," Duncan said. "It's been working and everybody is starting to believe."

    The Spurs have made major changes to the team that won the title last June, adding Rasho Nesterovic, Hedo Turkoglu and Robert Horry among others.

    "It's tough at the beginning of every year," Duncan said. "But credit to Pop and the rest of the coaching staff, he always does a great job of getting guys together and getting guys on the same page. He knows the season is long and we have to use every game as a learning experience.

    "So by the end of the year, we feel we have an opportunity to do the best that this team can."

    The outcome was determined early. The Spurs held the Sonics to 3-for-21 shooting in the first quarter in taking a 25-9 lead. Seattle never got closer than 11 points after that.

    The Sonics missed their first 10 shots in falling behind 11-1 before Vladimir Radmanovic made a layup with 5:05 gone. The nine points by Seattle was the team's low for a quarter this season.

    The Sonics, already playing without Ray Allen, got only 12 minutes from Lewis in the first half because he got into early foul trouble. Lewis was charged with his third personal foul when he knocked down Bruce Bowen for an offensive foul with just 2:58 gone in the second quarter.

    The Sonics cut their deficit to 39-27 with 2:46 to go before the Spurs went on a 12-2 run to finish the first half with Duncan scoring five of them on a dunk, a layup and a free throw.

    In the third period, the Sonics tried playing their two centers, Jerome James and Calvin Booth, together in an effort to hold Duncan in check, but it didn't work. San Antonio's biggest lead in the period was 24 points, 61-37, after a layup by Nesterovic.

    Sonics coach Nate McMillan is getting tired of seeing Duncan.

    "Tim is great," he said. "He controls the ball offensively and defensively. He's going to be a Hall of Famer."

    And the addition of the 7-foot Nesterovic, signed as a free agent by the Spurs after five seasons in Minnesota, has been a key for San Antonio.

    "Having two 7-footers back there to contest shots, that's a nice luxury to have," McMillan said.

    Game notes

    Sonics PG Brent Barry missed the game with a sore left hip. He started and played 22 minutes in his team's 99-98 loss to Denver Wednesday night. "It was bothering him then, but he tried to go," McMillan said. Murray started in place of Barry in Seattle's backcourt. ... McMillan said before the game he is unsure when Allen will be able to play again. Allen, who had a bone chip removed from his right ankle Nov. 1, practiced with the Sonics for the first time Thursday. McMillan reported he had no swelling in his ankle Friday. "I think he needs a few more practices," McMillan said. "I think he needs to get knocked down."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 73
    FGM-FGA 34-74 (.459) 28-82 (.341)
    3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 2-15 (.133)
    FTM-FTA 14-18 (.778) 15-19 (.789)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-48 12-40
    Assists 18 13
    Turnovers 18 9
    Steals 7 11
    Blocks 7 5
    Fast Break Points 4 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 17 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 27
    Reb: 20
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 4
    Calvin Booth Booth
    Points: 6
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 4