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Duncan, Spurs use defense to top Suns

Apr 6, 2007 - 6:58 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs used their famous defensive prowess to close in on the second seed in the Western Conference.

Duncan had 22 points and 10 rebounds and controlled the paint defensively as the Spurs held on to post a 92-85 victory over the second-place Phoenix Suns.

Tony Parker scored a season-high 35 points for San Antonio (54-21), which now is just two games behind Phoenix (56-19) for the second seed in the West. The Spurs have won eight of their last nine contests.

"We're in charge of our destiny," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "To win the whole enchilada, you have to win at home and you have to win on the road. I would love to have home court.

"Should we win in the first round, we would have Phoenix in the second round, and I would love to have home court. If we don't, then we still play a seven-game series. We've had both situations, and we've played well and poorly in each."

San Antonio dominated on the defensive end of the floor on Thursday, holding the league's best offensive team well under its season averages in points, field-goal percentage (39 percent), 3-point accuracy (2-of-11) and assists (14).

"(The Spurs) kind of sped us up and got us out of our comfort level," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You have to go fast but you can't get in a hurry, and I think we did a little of that on offense. We never got into a good rhythm.

"If you're going to have a night like that, you are not going to beat them down here. They got us out of our rhythm as evidenced by the fact that we scored 85 points. We need to scored 100, and I think we can."

However, the Suns made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter. Trailing by 14 points with 6:43 left, Phoenix went on a 14-4 run to make it 85-81, capped by Shawn Marion's layup with 1:54 left.

But on the Suns' next possession, Duncan blocked the lightning-quick Leandro Barbosa's layup attempt to thwart Phoenix's rally with 1:12 left.

Duncan shot 10-of-17 from the field, and Parker was 12-of-22 from the floor and 11-of-14 from the free-throw line.

"(Tony) was great," Duncan said. "He was aggressive, and at the same time, I thought he did a great job of understanding the defense and hitting shooters when it was time. He had a great pace to his game all night. We really needed that push, and he really gave it to us."

Steve Nash had 20 points and seven assists for the Suns, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

"I have to give them credit," D'Antoni said. "They played well and did a lot of things well tonight, but that being said, at the same time, we didn't play that well offensively. Our performance defensively is actually encouraging, but we are going to have to play better on the offensive end to beat this team."