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Parker steps up as Spurs defeat Celtics

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- With Manu Ginobili out hurt and Tim Duncan struggling, the San Antonio Spurs turned to Tony Parker and a tested bench to get them a win.

They produced in convincing style.

Parker had 22 points and eight assists to lead the Spurs to a 103-88 win over the Boston Celtics Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

The 12th-year guard was 8-of-14 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and scored nine points in the final quarter.

"We kept our composure and had a lot of guys play well. The bench was real big for us," said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. "Obviously Tony (Parker) was unbelievable down the stretch, but a lot of the guys like Gary (Neal), Danny (Green) and Tiago (Splitter) played very solid basketball."

Gary Neal added 20 points, Tiago Splitter 16 and Danny Green 12 as the Spurs snapped a two-game losing streak to move to 19-6.

After the Celtics took a brief 31-30 lead with 8:30 left in the second quarter, they couldn't wrangle the lead back from San Antonio.

It was Parker who helped close the game out in the fourth. His off-balance, reverse layup with 3:34 on the clock excited the holiday crowd and gave San Antonio a 96-82 lead.

"That was an amazing shot," said Neal. "Tony's a phenomenal player. Through the three years I've been here, he's done some phenomenal things."

A James Anderson 3-pointer with 1:22 remaining pushed the lead up to 18 -- 102-84 -- San Antonio's biggest of the game.

The Spurs outscored the Celtics 26-19 in the final quarter.

Boston, coming off a 101-89 loss to the Houston Rockets Friday night, was led by Jason Terry and Paul Pierce, both with 18 points. The two, however, combined for only five points in the second half.

"I honestly thought we got fatigued," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "They (Spurs) were able to sustain their play and I thought that was the difference in the game."

Kevin Garnett added 13, Courtney Lee 11 and Jeff Green 10.

Rajon Rondo dished out nine of Boston's 22 assists as the Celtics fell to 12-11.

Rondo and the rest of the Celtics had trouble with the Spurs defense, turning the ball over 20 times, which led to 27 Spurs points.

Boston was 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, while San Antonio connected on 15-of-20.

"They went into the fourth quarter with six fouls," said coach Rivers. "That means they are one heck of a defensive team. It is what it is. It's hard to win games on the road when a team goes to the line like that and we don't go to the line."

San Antonio took a 52-49 halftime lead despite letting Boston shoot 53 percent from the field.

Terry had 17 points and Pierce dropped 14 in the first half.

The matchup featured two old NBA classics -- Duncan and Garnett -- who have had legendary battles over the years.

Duncan struggled, going 2-for-13 for five points.

Neal had 12 first-half points to lead San Antonio, while the other big man, Splitter, had 10.

San Antonio lost Ginobili, who took a hard foul by Celtics forward Chris Wilcox in the first quarter. The team determined he had a left thigh contusion and he did not return.

NOTES: San Antonio won the first match this year, beating Boston 112-100 on Nov. 11. ... Celtics coach Doc Rivers played two seasons with the San Antonio Spurs (1994-96). He finished his playing career in San Antonio, where he averaged 4.4 points and 2.0 assists. ... The last time Boston won in San Antonio was Feb 14, 1990. They defeated the Spurs 106-95. ... Rivers expounded on Tim Duncan's high level of play, despite being 36. "He's competitive. I really believe it's that simple," Rivers said. It was a common denominator he saw with his own big man, Kevin Garnett. "Yes, no doubt," Rivers said. "And they're professional. They go about it in completely different ways, but they're both extremely professional in the way they prepare for each game." ... A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of the victims who died in the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
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