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Spurs hang on for close win over lowly Knicks

Jan 5, 2008 - 4:59 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- It wasn't pretty, but the San Antonio Spurs managed to barely hang on for a 97-93 victory over the lowly New York Knicks on Friday night at the AT&T Center.

Bruce Bowen scored 15 points and four other players scored in double figures, including 12 points apiece for Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, for the Spurs. Duncan added nine rebounds and five assists.

Michael Finley scored seven of his 14 points in the third quarter, and hit a huge 3-pointer late in the fourth that gave San Antonio just enough breathing room.

"We know we're getting everybody's best shot no matter how they're doing at the time," Spurs forward Matt Bonner said. "They made tough shots that kept them in the game."

The Knicks were without starting forward Zach Randolph, who was suspended one game for throwing his headband and hitting an official on Wednesday night. But it didn't seem to matter as Eddy Curry had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Jamal Crawford added 24 points for New York.

The Knicks made it interesting in the fourth quarter, continually chopping away at the Spurs' lead.

"I thought New York did a great job of being pretty energetic," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Going against the Spurs would have been a great win for them, and they showed that they wanted it. I thought we hung tough, we matched their energy, and we got the win."

Curry got fouled while dunking the ball midway through the fourth quarter. The three-point play cut the Knicks' deficit to 88-85, and David Lee's layup with 3:02 left in the game cut it to 90-89. Lee finished with six points and 12 rebounds.

Bonner, who finished with 14 points, found an open Finley in the corner for a 3-pointerwith 1:43 left in the game that gave the Spurs a five-point cushion, 94-89.

Nate Robinson hit a 17-footer with under a minute left that pulled New York to within one point again. But the Knicks could not get over the hump.

On the next possession, the Spurs committed one of only six turnovers, but the Knicks fumbled the ball right back to San Antonio and had to foul as time became their enemy.

"Beating the world champions at home is hard enough but, if we want to win, we need to play smarter basketball. This team has the effort required to win, but our intelligence needs to catch up to our effort," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said.

Bruce Bowen hit both free throws, and New York was unable to score on its final possession of the game.

"This is a very difficult loss," Thomas added. "However, this team showed progress tonight."

Curry and Stephon Marbury each scored eight points for the Knicks in the first quarter as they trailed, 27-24, heading into the second.

DerMarr Johnson, in his third game as a Spur, scored eight points in a five-minute span during the second quarter that gave San Antonio a lead they would not relinquish.

The game was tied 40-40 with 5:02 left in the third when Johnson got hot for San Antonio, which went on an 8-0 run. Johnson was responsible for six of those points.

The Spurs hit 11 3-pointers, five more than the Knicks.

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