INDIANAPOLIS (TICKER) —With All-Star Tim Duncan in early foul trouble and David Robinson hobbled by a sore back, the San Antonio Spurs needed some leadership to prevent their marathon road trip from going from bad to worse.
That’s when 20-year-old Tony Parker stepped up.
Parker scored 28 points and dished out seven assists and Stephen Jackson scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half as the Spurs ended the Indiana Pacers’ 14-game home winning streak with a 106-97 victory.
A second-year guard from France, Parker scored the Spurs’ final six points of the second quarter, completing a 16-5 run that gave San Antonio a 57-45 lead at the break.
“I try to help my team any way they need me,” Parker said. “I listened to (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich). If he wants to be more aggressive, then I try to be more aggressive, especially going to the basket.”
San Antonio went up by as many as 17 points in the second half before Indiana closed to 98-92 on a dunk by Jermaine O’Neal with 1:51 remaining. But Jackson made a steal and dunked, and Indiana got no closer than six thereafter.
Duncan picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and never got untracked for San Antonio, which began a nine-game road trip with Monday’s loss at Minnesota in which it allowed a season-high 106 points. The All-Star managed just 12 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes.
“It was a lot of fun to watch, we had a lot of guys step up to the challenge,” said Duncan, who picked up his second foul five minutes into the game. “They hit big shots and we managed to find a way to win.”
“(The suspension) knocked the emotion and energy out of the team,” Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said. “I told them during the game when they came to the bench, I admired the way they kept trying and fighting.”
O’Neal scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Indiana, which fell to 21-2 at home with its first loss at Conseco Fieldhouse since a November 23 setback to Detroit.
Malik Rose netted 13 points and six rebounds and Robinson returned from a three-game stay on the injured list to collect 12 points and nine boards for the Spurs, who hit 46 percent (39-of-84) from the field and posted their fifth win in seven games.
“It (the back) felt good tonight, plus it was a game where my team really needed me,” Robinson said. “It gave us more bodies to match up with their size.”
Robinson and Rose also picked up their fourth fouls in the third, but by that time, Parker, Rose and energetic Argentine rookie Emanuel Ginobili had given the Spurs some breathing room.
After a bucket by Robinson with 3:30 left in the second quarter gave San Antonio a 43-40 edge, Ginobili sparked the Spurs with his spirited play.
With 2:20 to go, he fed a cutting Rose for a lay-in and generated a break that resulted in another layup by Rose, who tacked on two free throws before Ginobili’s steal and dunk capped the 10-0 burst with 1:20 to go.
“He (Ginobili) is a heck of a player,” Popovich said. “He’s now healthy. Having him is a huge plus for us.”
With San Antonio leading, 51-42, Parker outscored the Pacers by a 6-3 margin in the final minute of the half.
“Parker is just getting better and better all the time,” Popovich said. “This is his second year and he’s made a significant improvement from last year. He’s a competitor.”
Ginobili, who scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, will replace Houston’s Yao Ming in the 2003 Rookie Challenge on NBA All-Star Saturday on February 8 in Atlanta. Yao will start in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Four second after Jackson’s dunk gave the Spurs a 100-92 advantage with 1:20 to play, Harrington sank two free throws. But San Antonio hit on 6-of-8 from the foul line over the final 47 seconds to keep its distance.
Reggie Miller scored 19 points, Al Harrington added 15 and Brad Miller posted 10 and 15 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot just 17 percent (3-of-18) from 3-point range and 42 percent (32-of-88) overall.
“We can’t blame the loss on (Artest’s absence) because we’ve played without guys before,” Harrington said. “It definitely did hurt us, but we still had our opportunities to win.”
Despite the Pacers’ sparkling home mark, it was business as usual for the Spurs, who have taken six of the last seven in Indiana.
The defeat ended a four-game winning streak for Indiana, which still owns the best record in the Eastern Conference at 33-13.
A short jumper with 1:49 left in the first quarter by Harrington gave the Pacers their largest lead, 26-21. But San Antonio closed and went ahead for good at 31-30 on Ginobili’s transition layup 2:39 into the second period.