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Ginobili comes up big late in Spurs' win

Mar 2, 2008 - 5:29 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili scored 30 points, including the go-ahead basket, and Tony Parker added 26 to power the San Antonio Spurs to a 96-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Michael Finley added 11 points while Tim Duncan had an off-night with just seven points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, who improved to 18-4 against the Eastern Conference in winning their eighth straight game.

After Charlie Bell converted a layup with 20 seconds remaining to give the Bucks their first lead of the fourth quarter at 94-93, Ginobili calmly responded on the next possession, hitting a 17-foot jumper with 13 seconds left to put the Spurs back in front.

Ginobili stole the ball from Bell on the next possession following a timeout, prompting the Bucks to foul Parker, who hit 1-of-2 free throws to increase the lead to 96-94.

"He (Ginobili) has an unbelievable competitive spirit and he has really pulled us along for the last month and a half or so," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He has made a lot of big shots in a lot of big games all around the world and he likes that stage."

With less than nine seconds left, Bucks guard Michael Redd worked the ball up the court and drove the lane, only to be tripped by Duncan in the lane with one second remaining.

However, Redd missed the first free throw, forcing him to intentionally miss the second free throw in order to give the Bucks a chance to win.

Andrew Bogut played the miss on the second free throw well but his putback opportunity was too strong, allowing the Spurs to seal the victory.

"There are a lot of missed shots throughout the course of the game," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "Those are the ones that might be under the microscope. Certainly, we had to miss the second one on purpose. It worked pretty well and Andrew got a tipped missed basket. There were a lot of opportunities along the way. It didn't come down to those free throws."

"We had plenty of chances to lose that game and to win that game," Redd said. "Unfortunately, I missed a free throw."

Redd scored 25 points and Bogut added 17 and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who saw their three-game home winning streak come to an end.

Leading 58-51 with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter, the Bucks' fortunes started falling when point guard Mo Williams was whistled for a shooting foul on Parker.

Williams, still fuming from not getting what he thought was a similar call on the other end, questioned the call and was hit with two quick technical fouls, resulting in an automatic ejection.

Milwaukee responded well initially - increasing the lead to 64-54 over the next two minutes - but clearly missed Williams during a four-minute stretch in which Ginobili scored six points during a 15-0 run.

The stretch allowed the Spurs to take a 69-64 lead with 1:28 left in the period until Bogut ended the drought with a tip-in 21 seconds later.

"We just tried to play for 48 minutes and stay in the game," Parker said. "It looked like it wasn't going our way but then we had a pretty good third quarter and we kept the lead for the rest of the game."

With the help of its 15 consecutive points toward the end of the period, San Antonio closed the quarter on a 19-4 run and continued the solid defense in the fourth quarter, holding the Bucks to just one field goal from Bogut's putback until the Milwaukee center hit a jumper with 5:18 left in the contest to trim the deficit to 86-79.

"That's why I think they (the Spurs) win championships," Bucks forward Desmond Mason said. "They have guys who step up and make plays and they're a very unselfish team. That's the type of team that the majority of the teams in the NBA want to be like. For us to come out and play the way we played today and with the way we've been playing recently, it speaks volumes about our team."

Milwaukee turned the tables until the final seconds, making a furious rally over the next four-plus minutes in which it outscored San Antonio, 15-7, setting the stage for Ginobili's late-game heroics.

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