SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- For the second consecutive game, the San Antonio
Spurs had a second-half collapse. But they still managed to win
their 11th in a row, and put more distance between themselves and
their top rival.
The victory pushed the Spurs' NBA-best record to 59-20, two games
ahead of Dallas in the race for the top seed in the Western
Conference. The Mavericks lost to Utah, 95-92.
The Sonics had cut San Antonio's lead to 86-82 on Brent Barry's
alley-oop pass to Rashard Lewis with 2:31 left in the game. The
Spurs, who nearly blew a 15-point lead against Portland on
Wednesday, then won the game at the free throw line. Manu Ginobili
made four, and Rose and Tony Parker made two each over the final
''If it's a win, we'll take it,'' Parker said. ''This one was
ugly in the second half.''
Parker finished with 16 points, Ginobili 15 and Speedy Claxton
13. Duncan led all rebounders with 15.
Claxton was 4-for-5 from the floor and sparked the Spurs when
they were struggling in the second half. He also made a key block
on a jumper by Kevin Ollie with 2:04 left.
''That's why they got me here -- to step up the tempo of the
game,'' Claxton said. ''They were executing and throwing us some
junk defenses that bothered us.''
Ray Allen had 32 points to lead the Sonics, who were eliminated
from playoff contention when Phoenix beat Golden State later on
Allen was 8-for-11 from the floor in the second half after his
prime defender, Bruce Bowen, was ejected for picking up his second
''Just because they had the best record in the league didn't
mean I was going to come in here and roll over,'' Allen said.
Seattle coach Nate McMillan and several Seattle players
complained about the lopsided number of fouls called on them. The
Sonics were whistled 36 times, giving the Spurs 49 free throws. The
Spurs committed only 20 fouls.
''Obviously they won it at the charity stripe,'' said Barry,
whose team went to the line only 17 times. ''And tonight I can see
why it's called that -- the charity stripe.''
Lewis scored 13 points and Predrag Drobnjak 12 for the
Trailing by 12 with little more than a minute remaining in the
third quarter, Seattle trimmed San Antonio's lead to 69-64 on a 3-pointer
by Drobnjak, a layup by Lewis and two free throws by Ollie. Claxton
then hit a 20-footer with 0.7 seconds left to make it 71-64 heading
into the fourth.
''I felt like we didn't play until the second half,'' McMillan
said. ''Once we got that sense of urgency, we did get back in it.
We just couldn't get over the hump.''
The Spurs' biggest lead was 21, 52-31, with 3:04 remaining
before halftime when Parker made his second 3-pointer in as many
possessions. The Sonics, laboring to defend San Antonio's big men
inside, committed 19 fouls in the first half that the Spurs turned
into 12 points at the free throw line.
Barry led Seattle on an 8-1 burst by making a pair of 3-pointers
in the final 1:15 of the half to cut the Sonics' deficit to 53-39.
San Antonio plays at Phoenix on Sunday and at Utah on
Monday before wrapping up the regular season at home Wednesday
against Dallas. ... Spurs starting guard Stephen Jackson, bothered
by a sore left hip flexor, got the night off. Steve Smith started
in his place. ... Bowen's first technical was for jostling with
Allen while on defense, and the second came 27 seconds later for
throwing an elbow on offense. ... Seattle's 36 fouls were a season
high for the team.