<
>

Parker's career-high 38 lifts Spurs over Heat

MIAMI (AP) -- San Antonio's 15-point lead was gone, Shaquille
O'Neal was flexing a bit at midcourt and the Miami Heat thought
they were on the cusp of a breakthrough win.

Tony Parker and the Spurs simply wouldn't allow it to happen.

Parker scored a career-high 38 points, including a
game-clinching jumper with 38 seconds left as the Spurs rallied to
beat the struggling Heat 101-94 on Friday night.

"Big win, big win," Parker said. "It's very motivating to
play against Miami. Obviously, it's one of the best teams in the
league and we ... wanted to try to play solid basketball. And
that's what we did tonight."

The Spurs led by 15 in the third quarter, then had to escape a
four-point deficit midway through the fourth to match their best
40-game start (31-9) in franchise history. San Antonio had the same
record last year on the way to winning the NBA championship.

Parker hit 13 of 18 shots from the floor and surpassed his
previous career best of 35.

"It was surprising how he shot the ball tonight, but he got in
a zone there, got his rhythm down, came off and was real confident
with his shot," said Tim Duncan, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds
for the Spurs. "He had an unbelievable night and he's had an
unbelievable year."

Dwyane Wade scored 36 points for Miami (23-17), which played at
home for the first time since Jan. 1. O'Neal had 23 points and
Jason Williams added 18 for Miami, which has lost eight of its last
nine against San Antonio.

The Heat have six fewer wins at this point than they did last
season -- a disappointing stat for a team that professes to have
title aspirations.

"Tough loss, because this is another one of, I think, nine or
10 games we let slip away this year," O'Neal said. "We're going
to need these games. And coach (Pat) Riley was right when he said
we need to start making a push now. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday.
Now."

After Wade missed a layup that would have tied it with 1:20
left, he fell to the floor in pain and had to be helped up by a
member of a television crew.

He grimaced as he ran downcourt, hobbled by a tweaked ankle --
and the Spurs found an unguarded Brent Barry for an open 3-pointer
with 1:09 left for a 95-90 lead.

"Brent hit the big one to sort of put the nail in the coffin,"
Riley said.

Manu Ginobili's 3-pointer with 9:31 left in the third quarter
gave the Spurs a 58-43 lead, but he left the game 32 seconds later
after spraining his right ankle. Ginobili missed 10 games in
December with the same sprained ankle and a sprained right foot.

"It's tough for him," Duncan said. "He just got back to the
point where he was feeling pretty close to 100 percent."

Immediately after Ginobili was carried off the floor by
teammates, Miami -- fueled by seven points from O'Neal -- got back
into the game with an 11-0 run. Yet the Heat quickly cooled, and
Parker had nine points in the final 4:11 of the quarter to push San
Antonio's lead to 74-66.

But the first 6 minutes of the final period were all Miami, with
the Heat opening the quarter on a 16-4 run to take an 82-78 lead
with 6:12 left. From there, though, the Spurs closed the game on a
23-12 run, with Parker getting seven points in the game-ending
spurt.

"Good basketball teams have to do that if you want to be
standing at the end of the year," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
"You have to play through that sort of thing. There are several
teams in the league capable of doing that. Hopefully, we're one of
them."

San Antonio led for only 21 seconds in the opening quarter, yet
had a 20-18 edge at the end of the period.

Miami had nine turnovers in the quarter, leading to 12 Spurs
points -- the last coming when Parker stole a bad inbounds pass by
James Posey, went to the right corner and hit a 3-pointer with 0.4
seconds remaining.

The Spurs kept the lead for most of the second quarter, and used
a 17-3 run over a 4:20 stretch late in the period to help stake
them to a 49-38 halftime edge. Parker had nine points in that
burst, part of a 5-minute stretch where the Heat didn't manage a
single field goal and gave up eight points off four turnovers.

Miami yielded 22 points off 14 first-half turnovers, then had
only one turnover after halftime.

"They made plays down the stretch to win the game," Wade said.
"We move on. ... We played good enough to win. We just didn't."

Game notes
The Spurs are 27-1 when shooting better than 45 percent.
They shot 49 percent Friday. ... Spurs F Robert Horry missed his
second straight game with a lower abdominal strain. ... It was
Miami's ninth game in a span of 12 straight against Western
Conference foes. The Heat haven't played an East team since beating
Washington on Dec. 30; they visit Charlotte next Friday.