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Duncan helps Spurs edge reeling Nets

Jan 24, 2009 - 6:04 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan set the tone, Tony Parker led the charge and Michael Finley delivered the dagger - a formula that gave the San Antonio Spurs another victory.

Duncan collected 30 points and 15 rebounds as the Spurs edged the reeling New Jersey Nets, 94-91, on Friday.

Tony Parker scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half and Michael Finley added 11 - including a key 3-pointer that gave San Antonio a 90-86 lead with 22 seconds left in the game, securing its fourth straight victory.

"Defense was great," Duncan said. "I think we made too many turnovers, mistakes down the stretch there to give them opportunities to get back in the game but in the same respect, our defense stepped up, made stops then we had a big play from (Finley) hitting the three in the corner - great call by (coach Gregg Popovich)."

Devin Harris netted 27 points while nursing a rib injury and Vince Carter chipped in 26 for the Nets, whose season-high losing streak reached five contests.

"It's a disappointing loss but there are some positives," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "You ask yourself, with six minutes to go, did we have a chance? Yes. In the final stretch did we get some good looks? Yes. Did they go in? No.

"But we were able to get stops and had numerous opportunities in a one-point game. We just couldn't convert. There is no consolation prize in losing, but there is a lot to build on."

The Spurs held a 28-16 margin in the third quarter to offset a productive first half by the Nets, who led, 50-44, at the break.

"It was just that (Duncan) got hot in the first half; he was great tonight," Parker said. "Then at halftime (Popovich) came up to me and told me to get more aggressive. We need someone else to score the basketball, so that's what I did in the third quarter."

Duncan snapped an 81-81 tie by drilling a jump shot with 4:54 remaining, and gave San Antonio a lead it would not relinquish.

Despite bouncing back from a porous 1-for-11 effort in Wednesday's 102-92 setback to the New Orleans Hornets, Harris could not salvage the game for his struggling club.

"I just came out and had a mindset to attack," Harris said. "I've seen this team a million times so I kind of know how they play me. I just tried to get myself in the lane and get myself going early. Obviously, Vince had it going pretty good all night but I was just trying to read the defense the best I could."

Keyon Dooling converted a 3-point play by hitting a layup and the ensuing free throw before Harris nailed a long jumper to pull the Nets within 87-86 with 2:13 left.

Carter kept New Jersey afloat by hitting a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, cutting its deficit to 92-89 but Roger Mason made two free throws to reclaim a five-point lead one second later.

Harris made a jumper with one second remaining and the Nets gained possession off a turnover by Manu Ginobili with 0.2 on the clock. Carter tried to release a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to tie the game, but the refs waved his attempt off.

"With two-tenths, you can't catch and shoot. You can only tip in," Frank said. "That's all you can do is tip, so there was no arguing that. The only hope there was maybe there should have been three-tenths, but that wasn't the case."

The Spurs have won five of their last six despite scoring 100-plus points just once in that span.

"(Duncan) did a good job anchoring the team and carrying us for 48 minutes," Popovich said. "We had to work hard. New Jersey played really well. They wanted to win badly and Timmy wasn't going to let that happen."

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