SAN ANTONIO (AP)—For the second straight game, the San Antonio Spurs had a second-half collapse. But they still managed to win their 11th straight, and put more distance between themselves and their top rival.
The win 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 two minutes.
“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 Friday.
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 technical foul.
“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 only committed 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 SuperSonics.
Trailing by 12 with little more than a minute remaining in the third, 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 thefinal 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 forthe team.