<
>

Parker leads Spurs' balanced attack in 12th straight win

SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginobili can't explain the reason for the Spurs' 12-game winning streak. He just wants it to keep going.

"I really can't say," he said after Saturday's 93-77 victory over the New Jersey Nets. "Defensively we're doing much better. We're not as irregular as before. But then it's just confidence. We're making big shots down the stretch."

Ginobili had 12 points, while Tony Parker led the Spurs with 19. Tim Duncan added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Brent Barry scored 11 points.

"It's great, especially when you compare it with the way we were playing before," Ginobili said. "We're very happy but at the same time we have to keep improving for when it counts."

Bruce Bowen said the Spurs are trying to care of business now, especially at home, ahead of the playoffs.

"There has been a sense of urgency," he said. "We let some great opportunities get away here at home."

Duncan called the streak "a start."

"We still have some things to work on," he said. "We're starting to get a consistency level that we need and that we want."

Vince Carter had 17 for the Nets, who have lost five straight. Mikki Moore added 14 points and Josh Boone scored 11, but Jason Kidd had only seven before he was ejected in the third quarter after picking up a pair of technical fouls.

Nets coach Lawrence Frank was also ejected.

"Obviously we didn't see eye-to-eye with the officials," Frank said. "The calls that went against us were hard to swallow because it was obvious that we had good intent."

Bostjan Nachbar's dunk with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter brought New Jersey within nine points, and Carter's alley-oop slam 31 seconds later made it 74-67.

But Ginobili sank a 3-pointer, then made a dunk off a pass from Duncan for an 81-67 lead with 6:28 left.

"I got it right on time, in the right place," Ginobili said. "So I felt good to go and finish."

New Jersey didn't get closer than 12 after that.

Both teams started slowly, with the Spurs not scoring for the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first quarter while missing eight straight shots. New Jersey missed seven straight toward the end of the period, but started better in the second and caught up with the Spurs, taking a brief 25-24 lead with 7:16 left in the half.

Even Duncan's dunk over Nachbar to make it 29-25 with 6:13 left couldn't energize San Antonio, which allowed the Nets to again take a brief 33-32 lead with 2:24 left.

Instead it was Parker who got the Spurs going with a fast-break layup with 1:41 remaining. Ginobili and Barry followed with 3-pointers, and Parker's free throws completed a 10-0 run to close the half and make it 42-33.

When no foul was called after Kidd went down hard following a missed shot with Duncan defending, a loudly complaining Frank got a technical. Kidd then got two of his own and was ejected with 4:17 left in the third.

"I was surprised by all of them (the technicals)," Kidd said. "I don't complain about calls unless I've got a legitimate case, and tonight I did."

Michael Finley made all three free throws to put the Spurs up 55-44.

The Spurs extended their lead to 66-52 to close the quarter as Frank got a second technical and had to leave the court. Finley made that free throw, and one other off a technical given to Moore, who said he got his when, "I walked over to (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) and asked him how much did they pay the refs tonight."

New Jersey fell a game behind the New York Knicks, who beat the Wizards 90-89 Saturday, in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We shouldn't worry where we fall in the standings," Carter said. "We just have to fight because we're a better team than what we've been showing."

Game notes
The Spurs have won nine straight against New Jersey. The Spurs beat the Nets 107-82 in February. ... Robert Horry's six points Saturday were more than the previous four games combined. Going into Saturday's matchup, he was shooting just 35 percent from the field. ... Nets F Richard Jefferson, in his second game back since Jan. 22 ankle surgery, scored seven points in about 35 1/2 minutes. "I felt all right tonight," he said. "A little bit of everything felt better." ... Carter was 0-of-5 from 3-point range and the Nets went 2-of-13 (15 percent) from behind the arc.