Spurs 84, Pistons 75

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—The San Antonio Spurs didn’t look like one of the NBA’s top defensive teams in the first half. They certainly did when it counted.

The Spurs limited the Detroit Pistons to only six baskets in the fourth quarter and took full advantage of Ben Wallace’s late-game ejection to pull away for a 84-75 win Thursday night.

Manu Ginobili scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half for the Spurs, who pulled within two games of Midwest Division leader Minnesota with 10 games remaining for both teams.

Ginobili said he wasn’t really concentrating in the first half when he missed all three of his shots.

“So after halftime I felt that I needed to step up and produce more,” he said. “We have 10 more games and of course we want to win the division and be in the best position.”

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said playing the Pistons was tough, given that he learned how to coach from Detroit’s Larry Brown.

“It’s like playing ourselves,” said Popovich, who was an assistant in San Antonio under Brown for three-plus seasons. “We do a lot of the same things. We like the same kind of players.”

Detroit trailed 71-64 when Wallace was whistled for a loose ball foul on Malik Rose with 6:08 remaining. When Wallace heatedly argued the call, referee Steve Javie hit him with a double technical and ejected him.

“I would rather be in the locker room than playing in a … game like that,” Wallace said afterward.

Rose hit the technical free throw and Hedo Turkoglu followed with a 3-pointer as part of a 6-0 run that put the Spurs ahead by 13. A basket by Tony Parker with 3:55 remaining completed an 18-4 run and gave San Antonio an 82-66 lead.

Brown said his players didn’t compete down the stretch.

“It just killed me to watch,” he said. “I don’t care how you think the game is being officiated, you have to keep playing. … Hopefully this is a lesson learned and we will move on.”

Seven technicals were assessed in the game, four of them against the Pistons.

Parker added 16 points for San Antonio, 10 of them in the second half. Tim Duncan had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Duncan, who missed nine games with a left knee injury, gave the home crowd a scare when he clutched that knee after being knocked down while going for a rebound in the final minute of the first half. He left the game, but returned to start the third quarter.

“I just hyperextended it a little bit,” he said. “It really didn’t do anything to it.”

Rasheed Wallace paced the Pistons with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Richard Hamilton scored 15 and Corliss Williamson 10. Ben Wallace had two points and eight rebounds.

Detroit missed its first four shots and fell behind 8-0 before Rasheed Wallace made a turnaround baseline jumper. The Pistons then got hot, going 8-for-12 over the rest of the period and opening the second quarter by making six of their first seven attempts. Over the same stretch, San Antonio went 7-for-19 to trail 31-26.

The Pistons built their advantage to 40-31 late in the second quarter, but the Spurs were able to get it down to 42-38 at the break as Ginobili made all three free throws after Mike James fouled him on a midcourt heave with 1.3 seconds left.

Notes

Parker is averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 assists in his past five games. … The Spurs have beaten the Pistons seven straight times in San Antonio dating back to April 1997, before Duncan’s arrival. … Popovich has a 10-4record against Brown, his boss on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team coaching staff.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Detroit
R. Wallace R. Wallace
8-18,  17 Pts
14 Rebs, 2 Assists
 San Antonio
T. Duncan T. Duncan
3-8,  12 Pts
13 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists