Duncan totaled a season-high 38 points - including the team’s first eight in overtime - 16 rebounds and a season-best nine assists as the Spurs outlasted the Phoenix Suns, 108-100, for their seventh straight victory at the SBC Center.
“He definitely showed why he is the reigning MVP in the league,” Suns coach Frank Johnson said. “(Duncan) stepped it up when he needed to and that is what an MVP does.”
“It’s my fault (he missed a triple-double),” Spurs center David Robinson said. “I missed like three of his assists. … I owe him something. We’ll figure it out.”
Duncan’s finger roll put San Antonio ahead for good, 98-96, with 3:30 remaining in the extra session. He added a pair of free throws and a banked jumper to give the Spurs a six-point advantage with 2:08 left. Phoenix got no closer than four points thereafter.
“They came out with a lot of energy in the extra session, but we kept our poise in OT,” Duncan said. “(Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) called a couple plays for me and they just seemed to stop doubling me. If they don’t double I’m going to make my move.”
“He is such a great player,” said Suns rookie Amare Stoudemire, who was matched up with Duncan for much of the contest. “It is amazing the determination that he has and how he puts his team on his shoulders. It was incredible getting to go up against him, and it was an experience getting to play him.”
Tony Parker added 15 points and Robinson 11 and 14 rebounds for the Spurs, who won for the fifth time in six games and improved to 16-3 at their new arena.
Parker’s 3-pointer with 8:06 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Spurs an 81-71 advantage, but the Suns stormed back, climbing within 92-91 on a follow-up dunk by Bo Outlaw with 9.7 seconds left.
After Parker sank a pair of free throws with 8.4 seconds remaining to give the Spurs a 94-91 edge, Stephon Marbury banked a 3-pointer over Duncan’s outstretched arm with three seconds to play, tying the game.
“I just knew that I had to make it,” Marbury said. “I had a tough shot, but I want to take the responsibility of taking that last shot. My teammates really did a great job of getting us back into the game, and I was glad that I stepped up and hit that shot.”
Following a timeout, the Spurs got the ball to Duncan, but he slipped and launched an off-balance airball just before the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
“I pulled through and actually got my foot caught on (Stoudemire’s) and stumbled,” Duncan said. “Sitautions like that you have to get a shot off. That wasn’t acceptable.”
Nevertheless, Popovich was impressed by Duncan’s effort.
“He’s our go-to guy, just like Stephon Marbury is their guy,” Popovich said. “(Marbury) did what he was supposted to do and Tim did what he was supposed to do, and that is why they are superstars. (Tim) made great passes out of the post and played unselfishly.”
Marbury, who was named co-Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, totaled 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Phoenix, which had won five of its previous seven games.
Stoudemire added 24 points and 15 rebounds and Shawn Marion 23 and nine for the Suns, who slipped one-half game behind the Spurs into fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
“(Stoudemire is) a heck of a player, a heck of a talent,” Duncan said. “Still really raw, young, but absolutely impressive.”
“We fought hard and really had a great fourth quarter,” Stoudemire said. “Steph’s shot was huge, but we really supplied great effort as a group. We just need to take the positives out of tonight and get ready for Houston (on Wednesday).”
Phoenix led, 26-20, after one quarter and 44-43 at the break. San Antonio went on a 15-4 run to take a 69-58 lead on a jumper by Malik Rose with 2:43 left in the third quarter, but the Suns climbed withing 71-65 entering the fourth quarter.
“They kept their heads up,” Popovich said of the Spurs. “When they make a shot to send the game to overtime, sometimes you let up, but the guys didn’t do that. “I was pleased with their performance in overtime.”
“They really are a great team, and well coached,” Marbury said of the Spurs. “Tim Duncan was a monster for them, but they have a system that they stick by, and they do it well. Everyone on that team knows their role, and that is definitely why this team is a playoff team.”