SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Coming back to his hometown just isn't the
same for Shaquille O'Neal now that he's traded purple for black.
His last basket cut San Antonio's lead to one point with nearly
five minutes left, but the Spurs defense held their longtime
nemesis scoreless down the stretch en route to victory.
Manu Ginobili scored 29 points for San Antonio.
When he was with the Los Angeles Lakers, O'Neal said, games
against San Antonio always meant something.
"This is different now," he said. "When I was in the purple
and gold, it was always two teams fighting for a chance to play in
the Finals and win a title."
O'Neal, a high school star in San Antonio in the 1980s, finished
with 23 points and 21 rebounds. Twelve of his points came in the
third quarter before he sat down after picking up his fourth foul.
His last hurrah was a putback with 4:44 remaining that pulled
Miami within 77-76.
The Spurs then took control with a 13-3 run. The highlight came
when Ginobili rebounded his missed free throw in the corner and,
unchallenged, calmly lined up and made a 3-pointer to extend San
Antonio's lead to 83-76.
"I grabbed it, nobody was covering me, so I took a shot,"
Ginobili said. "It wasn't a miracle shot. It was just a read."
Teammate Tony Parker said it was more than that.
"Manu is playing with unbelievable confidence," said Parker,
who finished with 18 points. "Shooting with so much confidence,
you can do a lot of stuff."
Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said Ginobili's rebound-shot "was
definitely a backbreaker for us."
Tim Duncan added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs.
The victory was the 400th for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, all
with San Antonio.
The game was touted as Duncan vs. O'Neal, but neither did much
in the first half.
O'Neal, roundly booed by Spurs fans who remember the All-Star
center's years with the Lakers, dunked on his first shot, but then
his missed six of his last seven of the half. He had six points at
Duncan shot 3-for-7 in each half, and he missed five of six free
throws in the second half.
The Spurs had defensive success, led by Rasho Nesterovic and
Duncan, who covered O'Neal for most of the game.
Miami's biggest lead was 6-2 following O'Neal's first dunk.
The Spurs then went on a 19-4 run, which ended with Parker
driving past a flat-footed O'Neal for a layup, pushing the
advantage to 21-10.
A 12-footer by Haslem initiated a 16-4 outburst punctuated by
Wesley Person's short jumper, giving Miami a 28-27 lead early in
the second quarter.
San Antonio got the lead back on its next possession on a jump
hook by Duncan, and later Ginobili converted a four-point play and
made a 3-pointer to give San Antonio a 39-29 lead midway through
Duncan is 25 points short of 12,000 for his NBA career. ...
The Spurs have won 16 straight regular-season home games dating to
last March. ... O'Neal went 5-for-7 at the line, while Duncan was