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Parker, Spurs continue success against Nets

Mar 3, 2008 - 3:43 AM By Carl Dispoto PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Without Jason Kidd around, Tony Parker had little trouble carving up the defense of the New Jersey Nets.

Parker had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and Manu Ginobili scored 17 points as the San Antonio Spurs extended their season-high winning streak to nine games with a 93-83 victory over the Nets on Sunday.

Tim Duncan collected 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs, who have won 10 straight meetings with the Nets since losing here on November 13, 2002.

Vince Carter scored 21 points and Devin Harris added 21 off the bench in his second game since returning from a bone bruise in his right ankle as the Nets fell to 3-3 since sending Kidd to Dallas in an eight-player deal on February 19.

Although Parker has historically played well against New Jersey, he made it look even easier than usual without Kidd on the floor. Parker made 10-of-18 shots from the field and dominated the second quarter as the Spurs took control before hitting a pair of key baskets in the fourth.

"I was just trying to be aggressive and make sure we got the win," Parker said. "I was trying to get to the basket."

"Tony was great running the team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He changed it up between hitting buckets, shooting jumpers and distributing the ball."

After the Nets had scored five straight points to pull within 81-75 on a jumper by Carter at 5:31, Parker made a jumper and a layup just 31 seconds apart to extend the lead double digits.

"He finishes games nicely, making shots in the fourth quarter," said Harris, who struggled trying to guard Parker. "That is what makes him so tough. You have got to remember that he was an NBA Finals MVP and he knows how to finish."

Carter followed with a layup, but Ime Udoka answered with a 3-pointer and Parker sealed the win with another layup with 3 1/2 minutes to go. Udoka scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter for the Spurs, who have won eight of their last nine road games, including five in a row.

"Every single game at this point of the season can make a huge difference down the stretch," Ginobili said. "We have to be aware that we play with the edge we need to have in the playoffs every game now."

Richard Jefferson scored 18 points for New Jersey, which was slowed by one of the best defenses in the league after averaging 105.4 points in its first five games following the Kidd trade.

The Nets continued their success from longe range by making 8-of-18 3-pointers but shot just 35 percent overall (27-of-78) and made only 12-of-40 shots after halftime.

"I think we guarded pretty well for the whole 48 (minutes), the team defense was pretty good," Popovich said.

San Antonio tinkered with its recent success by moving Ginobili to the bench after 14 consecutive starts. Kurt Thomas, who was acquired from Seattle prior to the trade deadline, made his first start with the Spurs and had six points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes.

The return to the bench did not phase Ginobili, who made 6-of-13 shots from the floor. Popovich did not disclose his reason behind the move.

"At this point in my career, I'm (not) surprised at anything like that," Ginobili said. "(Popovich) has done it so many times I just try to adjust. It's no big deal. He thought it was the best thing for the team, and I want the best for the team, so I am fine with it."

San Antonio showed no ill effects from the switch and scored 27 points on 13-of-26 shooting in the opening quarter. New Jersey stayed close behind Harris, who came off the bench to applause early in the game and scored 11 points in his first eight minutes on the floor.

The Spurs built a double-digit lead with a 10-2 run in the second quarter while holding the Nets to just one basket in a span of 5 1/2 minutes. Duncan made three free throws and Parker had a pair of assists during the stretch as New Jersey went 1-of-6 from the floor and committed three turnovers.

"We missed a lot of great shots," Carter said. "It is frustrating when you get the shot you want against a team like that. You want to make them pay, but it didn't happen."

Parker had nine points in the final four minutes of the first half and made a layup with eight-tenths of a second remaining to give the Spurs a 53-43 halftime lead.

Harris had 17 points in 17 minutes in the first half but slowed along with his teammates after halftime.

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