SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Now that they look at the standings and see they stack up favorably with recent NBA finalists, the young Orlando Magic feel they’ve done some growing up lately.
“It feels good,” Howard said. “We’ve been playing great basketball, but to come here and beat a great San Antonio team says a lot about our growth and maturity.”
The Celtics beat the Lakers in last season’s finals, and the Spurs won the title two years ago. The Magic won both meetings with the Spurs this season.
The Magic were 14-of-22 from 3-point territory.
“They did a great job from the 3-point line and really knocked them down,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team has the best 3-point percentage in the NBA this season but was 3-of-13 on Sunday. “Some nights we don’t shoot as well or get as many shots. That’s just the way it is, and that was the difference.”
Tony Parker scored 31 points for the Spurs (24-12), but missed a pair of layups in the final two minutes as San Antonio closed the game by missing six of seven shots.
“We knew the team that made the stops toward the end was going to win,” Howard said. “We came up with some good stops and got a good win.”
In the matchup against Howard, Tim Duncan had 18 points, hitting 7-of-14 from the floor and all four foul shots along with 10 rebounds. Howard was 9-of-12, going 6-of-7 on free throws and grabbed 14 rebounds.
The Spurs had won four straight. They next meet Los Angeles on Wednesday for the first time since the Lakers’ five-game victory in the Western Conference finals.
Like they did last year against the Lakers, the Spurs had little left late in the game. It was tied when Manu Ginobili made a layup with three minutes left. But the Spurs made only one more shot from the floor the rest of the night.
The Magic went up 100-96 with 1:56 to go when they sandwiched 3-pointers from Nelson and J.J. Redick around a pair of free throws by Ginobili.
It was 102-96 when Nelson connected from 16 feet with 1:27 left, but the Spurs were down only 102-98 when Matt Bonner hit a jumper on the next trip down the court. It was the last shot the Spurs would hit, going 0-for-5 in the final minute.
Parker’s missed shots, both on his familiar teardrop runners from inside 6 feet, could have tied the game.
“That’s my shot,” Parker said. “The teardrop is my shot, and it didn’t go in.”
The Magic took a 74-72 lead to the fourth quarter when Turkoglu made two free throws after a hand-check foul was called against the Spurs’ Bruce Bowen.
The Spurs went ahead 77-74 on Ginobili’s 3-pointer less than two minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Magic rallied to grab a three-point lead after consecutive 3-pointers from Keith Bogans, who had just checked into the game for the first time, and Lewis.
It was the first shot Lewis made since the first quarter after missing seven in a row.
Nelson made it 82-79 with 8:22 to go when he drew a shooting foul on Parker and made both free throws.
The Magic were 8-of-11 on 3-pointers in the first half, including one that had Popovich doubling over at midcourt after he watched Ginobili fail to get past a screen and defend Nelson.
Nelson hit the 24-footer with a second left for a 55-50 halftime lead, right after Parker had cut through the lane for a tough layup to make it a two-point game with less than 10 seconds left.
Parker provided most of San Antonio’s second-quarter offense. He was 5-of-6 from the floor for 10 points, and at halftime he had 18 points and six assists.
Lewis was 0-for-4 in the second quarter, but he got Orlando started off on the right foot with a 4-for-4 first quarter. He and Howard combined to open the game by hitting eight of their first nine.
The 34 first-quarter points scored by Orlando were the second-most the Spurs have given up in a quarter behind the 35 points Oklahoma City scored in the fourth quarter of a 109-104 loss to San Antonio on Dec. 14. … Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was whistled for a technical foul while arguing in the third quarter. … Duncan was called for a delay-of-game warning after his offensive rebound off Ginobili’s miss was called a loose-ball foul during a one-point game late in the third quarter. … After the Spurs play the Lakers at home on Wednesday, they will play three straight and 14 of their next 17 games on the road.