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Duncan, Ginobili rally Spurs past Hornets

Feb 24, 2008 - 5:28 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) - Tim Duncan scored 25 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, and Manu Ginobili added 30 points to propel the San Antonio Spurs to a 98-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

Tony Parker added 10 points in his return to the starting lineup for the Spurs, who outscored the Hornets, 20-11, over the final seven minutes of the game.

The win puts San Antonio (37-17), which has won five straight, into a tie for second place in the Western Conference, one-half game behind the idle Phoenix Suns (38-17). The Hornets (37-17), who were in first place before the game, would now be seeded fifth if the playoffs began tonight.

The Spurs finished with 26 assists on their 37 field goals, compared to only 13 on 34 for the Hornets.

Ginobili finished 10-of-18 from the field and added a career-high 12 assists and six rebounds while Duncan was 10-of-16 from the floor and had six assists.

"It was a very complete night for me," Ginobili said. "I was able to hit some shots, and then find open shooters."

Chris Paul led the Hornets with 27 points.

New Orleans' Hilton Armstrong followed a miss with an emphatic two-handed dunk that cut the lead to 76-71 with 9:15 left in the game. Jannero Pargo hit a 3-pointer with 7:43 remaining that cut the lead to 78-76, and Mike James, in his first game with the Hornets, tied the game at 78-78 with a layup on the next possession.

With the Spurs ahead, 88-84, Bruce Bowen hit his trademark corner 3-pointer with 2:36 left in the game for a 91-84 lead, and Ginobili followed with a 3-pointer on the next possession that put the game away.

"In the end, Manu Ginobili hit a lot of big shots, and they're a great team," Paul said. "We had an opportunity to sneak away with a win, but we just came up short."

For good measure, though, after a Hornets miss, Ginobili pulled down a one-handed rebound, raced down the court and weaved his way between defenders before he was fouled at the rim. He made both free throws for a 12-point edge.

"We were on our heels the whole night," said David West, who scored 16 points for New Orleans.

The Hornets outscored the Spurs 54-48 in the second half, but New Orleans coach Byron Scott knows that's not enough.

"I was happy with the way we played in the second half. We showed good effort through the final two quarters," Scott said, "But we proved that you need good effort through four quarters, and not just two."

Damon Stoudamire, who finished with seven points, hit a 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in the first half that capped a 10-4 run and gave the Spurs a 50-35 lead at intermission.

The Hornets cut the lead to 63-56, but San Antonio, behind Ginobili's 14-point third quarter, rallied to build a 76-59 lead with 1:25 left in the third.

"(Ginobili) is a very unselfish player who can score points when he wants," Duncan said. "He knows how to make the right plays at the right time."

But Peja Stojakovic hit a free throw and Paul scored seven straight points to end the quarter, getting New Orleans within 76-67 heading into the fourth.

San Antonio was perfect from the free throw line, hitting all 17 attempts.

The Hornets have lost two straight games and no longer control first place in the Western Conference, but they're not quite ready to throw in the towel.

"There is nothing to panic about. Now we know what teams are looking to do against us - being physical - so we'll just have to adjust," Scott said.

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