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Duncan, Finley lead Spurs over Kings

Nov 17, 2008 - 5:49 AM SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) -- The San Antonio Spurs' aging veterans are doing all they can to keep their injury-riddled team afloat.

Michael Finley found Tim Duncan in the lane for the game-winning layup in the final 15 seconds Sunday night, leading the Spurs to a 90-88 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Duncan scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading the way down the stretch as the Spurs rallied from a double-digit deficit for the second straight game. They also rallied to top the Houston Rockets, 77-75, on Friday night.

"(We) hate to put ourselves in that situation to have to come back," Duncan said. "But honestly, it felt good doing it. Guys played well - good execution down the stretch and just kind of finding a way to get it done."

Finley topped the Spurs with 21 points - including three 3-pointers - and Roger Mason added 18. But it was their long-time leader that keyed the win. Duncan's runner in the lane tied the game at 88-88 with 49 seconds left in the game.

"(Finley) is a longtime pro. He comes to play every night," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think the whole team executed real well on the last play that we ran and Timmy finished it off."

Following a timeout, Kings rookie Jason Thompson missed a tough shot inside while facing tough defensive pressure from Fabricio Oberto.

Duncan's lay-in with 15 seconds on the clock gave the Spurs a two-point edge lead.

"(Quincy Douby) was in the restricted area," Duncan said. "He kind of came up under me. Guys said (the shot) went off the glass about 90 miles and hour and went in. I'll take it. I didn't see the ball go in. Once I got up in the air, I kind of released it and I got hit and (fell) over."

Sacramento's Brad Miller air-balled a 15-foot baseline jumper on the other end. The Kings were then forced to foul Duncan, who missed both free throws with 2.3 seconds left to give the Kings one last glimmer of hope. Thankfully for San Antonio, Douby's 3-point attempt from the top of the key at the buzzer was off-target.

"It's a long season, so we've just got to forget about (the tough losses)," Kings guard Beno Udrih said. "(We have to) just think about it a little bit today, think about what we can do differently. Hopefully we learn from it. It's really frustrating if you keep making the same mistakes."

Sacramento also let the game slip away in an overtime loss to the undermanned Phoenix Suns on Friday and blew a 15-point lead in a loss to Detroit two days earlier.

"It's a tough loss," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "It's a tough finish to the game. We had a lot of opportunities and we just didn't knock them down."

The Spurs were once again without their star backcourt of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, both of whom are out with ankle injuries. Sacramento, meanwhile, played without top scorer Kevin Martin for the fourth straight game. The 25-year-old guard suffered a sprained left ankle in last Sunday's victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Sacramento used a 14-4 run midway through the third to grab a 66-55 advantage as the Spurs went cold from the floor. But the lead was quickly cut to four heading into the fourth as reserves Matt Bonner and Jacque Vaughn rallied San Antonio.

The Spurs took back the lead when Mason - who has taken over in the starting lineup since Parker went down on November 7 - nailed a 3-pointer two minutes into the final frame.

"Roger has been fantastic," Popovich said. "He's learned the system quickly and he's a natural scorer."

From there, the remainder of the game was a back-and-forth battle of wills.

San Antonio - which has struggled to put points on the board since Parker's injury - was able to use its defense to clamp down on the Kings and keep it close early. The Spurs grabbed their first lead late in the first half at 34-33 on Finley's driving layup. They outscored the Kings, 28-19, in the second quarter as a rash of turnovers proved costly for Sacramento, allowing San Antonio to take a 43-42 lead into the break.

The Kings were led by John Salmons, who poured in 31 on 10-of-13 shooting. They have lost two straight and three of four since their three-game winning streak earlier this month.

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