Duncan, Spurs overtake Sixers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Tim Duncan is noticeably lighter this year -- he won't say how much -- but he is still fully capable of shouldering the load for the San Antonio Spurs.
The veteran forward contributed 24 points, 17 rebounds and five assists -- not to mention the go-ahead basket with 1:43 left -- as the Spurs erased a seven-point deficit in the final 3:47 to nip the Philadelphia 76ers 90-85 Monday night.
"He just plays," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He missed a lot of easy shots, and down the stretch he didn't just score, but he rebounded for us. ... It's pretty amazing at his age (36), what he does night after night."
Sixers forward Thaddeus Young was asked if he sees any difference in Duncan at this stage of his career.
"I see Tim Duncan," Young said. "I haven't seen any change in him, other than him averaging a few less points. At the end of the day, he'll still get the job done."
The double-double was the 20th of the season for Duncan, and his second game with at least 24 points, 17 boards and five assists. He began the night averaging 17.3 points and 9.6 rebounds, his highest averages in the past three years, and his average of 2.78 blocks was his best figure in the past nine years. He blocked on shot in Philadelphia.
Tony Parker added 20 points and Kawhi Leonard had 16 for the Spurs (33-11), who scored 15 of the game's last 18 points en route to their fifth straight victory.
Evan Turner had 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Sixers (17-24), who were seeking to win consecutive games for the first time since late November. They were down 53-37 early in the third quarter and 71-59 late in the period before going on a 23-4 run that extended deep into the fourth quarter, giving them an 82-75 lead with 5:40 left.
However, San Antonio reeled off the game's next nine points. Leonard had five of those, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 2:25 to play. Duncan had the other four, and it was his jumper from the left block with 1:43 left that put the Spurs ahead to stay at 84-82.
As had been the case most of the night, the Sixers did not double-team Duncan on that possession, and he scored against Spencer Hawes.
"They doubled me for a little while there," Duncan said. "We found a couple guys on layups, and I think that kind of deterred them from doing that. I took my shots when they were there, and luckily I got them to fall tonight."
Parker then answered a free throw by Jrue Holiday with a jumper. Parker tacked on three free throws in the final 20.2 seconds, and Boris Diaw dropped in another at the line.
"Sometimes basketball is a funny game," Parker said. "You have to hang in there and wait for the run to stop. This time it took a long time for the run to stop."
Duncan said, "They made a big run; they made some shots. We recognized there was a lot of time left in the game, and we just had to start timing up on the defensive end and get some stops. We did just that."
The Spurs limited the Sixers to 1-for-10 shooting down the stretch.
"We didn't do a good job executing," Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. "I was trying to keep them calm. I didn't have the heat lamp on them or I wasn't electrocuting them or anything like that. I was trying to keep them calm."
Tiago Splitter finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs.
Hawes had 16 points for the Sixers. Holiday finished with 15, and Young added 14.
Duncan had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half, and Parker and Danny Green added 10 points apiece as San Antonio built a 49-35 lead. Holiday had eight first-half points for the Sixers.
The Spurs extended their lead to 53-37 early in the second half, but the Sixers cut the gap to 71-64 by quarter's end behind nine points from Turner. Young also scored eight points in the period.
NOTES: Sixers center Andrew Bynum, who has yet to play this season because of bone bruises to both knees, reiterated before the game that he hopes to return around the All-Star break in February. He has been shooting and doing some conditioning work, but said he has yet to do anything involving lateral movement. "That will be the biggest test," he said. "Cutting is the last thing to do, and I'm building up to that, slowly but surely." ... Spurs guard Manu Ginobili missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring pull. ... Sixers guard Jason Richardson did not play because of a sore left knee. ... Former Sixers great Charles Barkley, doing the game for Turner Sports, was accorded a video tribute in the first quarter. The crowd responded with a standing ovation. ... The Spurs, fifth in the league in 3-point accuracy at the beginning of the night, shot just 3-for-18 from the arc. Philadelphia made only four of its 14 3-point attempts.

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