Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/27

Game 1: Tuesday, December 27th
Game 2: Sunday, February 12th

Pacers 86

(15-11, 6-8 away)

Spurs 99

(22-7, 13-1 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, December 27, 2005

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

1 2 3 4 T
IND 29 19 15 2386
SA 27 19 20 3399

Top Performers

Ind: J. O'Neal 26 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast

SA: T. Duncan 26 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

In return from injury, Ginobili sparks Spurs past Pacers

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- When he arrived at the SBC Center on Tuesday, Manu Ginobili didn't know if he would be sitting out yet another game.

But Ginobili talked coach Gregg Popovich into letting him play, then made his biggest contributions at just the right time.

Ginobili, who missed eight games with a sprained right foot, made a free throw and two layups to start the decisive third-quarter run as the San Antonio Spurs pulled away for a 99-86 win over the Indiana Pacers.

"I came to the arena with a jacket on, so I didn't know if I was going to play or not," Ginobili said. "But I convinced Pop to let me play. I thought that it was really important to get some confidence back."

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 27 points and Ginobili added nine on 3-for-7 shooting.

The Pacers led 60-57 midway through the third after a layup by Jamaal Tinsley, but the Spurs took control with a 16-3 spurt.

After Ginobili's points, Parker added a pair of free throws and a layup, and Robert Horry made the first of his two 3-pointers. At the other end, the Spurs held Indiana without a basket for more than 4½ minutes beginning late in the third.

"The defense seemed to get better as the game went on," Popovich said. "It's a progression we like to see."

Indiana made 12 of its first 19 shots (63 percent), but missed 21 of its first 31 attempts in the second half en route to its third straight loss.

"We have to establish some consistency," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "We have to have more intensity on defense because that leads to opportunities on offense."

The Pacers trimmed San Antonio's lead to 76-71 early in the fourth on a short jumper by Jermaine O'Neal. Tim Duncan then banked in a 14-footer and swished a 16-footer, both over Jeff Foster, and Nazr Mohammed made a basket to restore the lead to double digits with 5 minutes remaining.

"Right now we are just an average team," said O'Neal, who led the Pacers with 26 points. "Elite teams find a way to make plays."

Duncan added 26 points for the Spurs. No other Spurs were in double figures.

Tinsley scored 20 for Indiana, while Fred Jones had 14 and Stephen Jackson 13.

Ginobili entered the game to a long standing ovation with 4:36 left in the first quarter and the Spurs down 18-15. He quickly found Parker with a pass for a layup and then hit a 10-foot jumper while falling out of bounds to even the score at 20.

Parker and Duncan each had 11 points in the first, but the Pacers' accurate shooting put them up 29-27 after one.

A 3-pointer by San Antonio's Nick Van Exel tied it at 38 midway through the second, but the Spurs then went scoreless for more than 3 minutes.

Indiana built its lead to six points late in the period before Ginobili made two free throws and Parker had a breakaway layup to cut the Pacers' lead to 48-46 at halftime.

O'Neal scored 10 points in the second and finished the half with 17.

Game Notes
The Spurs now hold a 34-33 advantage over the Pacers in the all-time series. ... Duncan had been wearing his hair long this season, but on Tuesday he was cropped close to the scalp and had shaved his beard. ... The Spurs made 11 of their 21 free throws in the first three quarters, but went 11-for-13 at the line in the fourth. ... The Pacers' Austin Croshere played only 10 minutes, 16 fewer than his average, and scored two points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 86 99
FGM-FGA 34-74 (.459) 36-71 (.507)
3PM-3PA 2-8 (.250) 5-16 (.313)
FTM-FTA 16-23 (.696) 22-34 (.647)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-38 7-39
Assists 12 16
Turnovers 15 11
Steals 7 5
Blocks 2 6
Fast Break Points 4 12
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (0/0) 21 (1/0)
Largest Lead 6 15

Top Performers

San Antonio
Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 26
Reb: 7
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Tim Duncan Duncan
Points: 26
Reb: 9
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 1