for this game

Bonner, Mason help Spurs' stars down Celtics

Feb 8, 2009 - 11:35 PM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all were well-rested for the San Antonio Spurs' showdown with the Boston Celtics.

But it was the supporting cast of Matt Bonner and Roger Mason that helped the Spurs shoot down the defending champs.

Bonner scored 16 of his season-high 23 points in the first half and Mason sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining, leading San Antonio to a 105-99 victory over the Celtics on Sunday.

It was the ninth win in the last 11 games for the Spurs, who improved to 2-1 on their annual "Rodeo Trip" - an eight-game trek that runs while the AT&T Center is taken over by a rodeo show.

"It was a beautiful win for us against the NBA champion," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "On the road makes it sweeter, so obviously we are thrilled with it."

Following last Monday's hard-fought overtime win at Golden State, Popovich opted to rest the star trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili for the entirety of Tuesday's loss at Denver.

The move paid off five days later as Duncan finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, Parker dished out seven assists and Ginobili scored 19 points off the bench.

"If I had played in Denver, I wouldn't have been this fresh," Ginobili said. "We've had five days off. This is really once in a blue moon in the NBA, and now we're going to have it at the All-Star break again.

"It was very important for us to rest for the first couple of days to have a lift. It helped us."

The Spurs also benefited from a terrific performance by Bonner, a New Hampshire native who finished 10-of-17 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds. The 6-10 Bonner fell two points shy of his career high of 25, set at Golden State in December 2007.

"For him coming to his home territory and just playing like a real pro - like he has been doing it for 10 years - he didn't let anything affect him," Popovich said.

"(Bonner) was really good tonight," Duncan added. "Obviously he gives people problems spacing the floor."

Bonner admitted he was thrilled to play well so close to home.

"At the end of the game when we had kind of wrapped it up, I was starting to get goosebumps," he said. "I didn't get to play the last two times we were here, so just to be able to go out and play minutes, and knock down shots, and help our team with a big win, means all the world."

After struggling offensively for much of the contest, Mason delivered in the clutch, draining a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining that gave San Antonio the lead for good at 95-93.

Kevin Garnett scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while Paul Pierce added 19 points to pace the Celtics, who have lost two of their last three following a 12-game winning streak.

Bonner scored 14 points during a 5 1/2-minute stretch in the second quarter, helping San Antonio transform a five-point deficit into a 60-52 halftime lead. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined to score San Antonio's last nine points of the first half.

Boston buckled down defensively in the third quarter, opening the second half on a 12-0 run to take a 64-60 lead.

That set the stage for a scintillating fourth quarter that featured three lead changes and was punctuated by Mason's late heroics.

Ray Allen's jumper pulled Boston within 90-89 with 2:57 remaining before Garnett swished a jumper from the left baseline to give the Celtics a 91-90 lead with 2:17 left.

After forcing a turnover on the ensuing possession, Boston went ahead, 93-90, when Garnett drained another jumper from the right elbow with 1:36 left. But that was when the dynamic duo of Bonner and Mason went to work.

Bonner faked a potential tying 3-pointer with 45 seconds left and dribbled to the free-throw line before hitting a pull-up jumper to make it 93-92.

Then Mason corralled Garnett's miss on the next possession, dribbled to the top of the arc and calmly sank a 3-pointer with 20.4 seconds left to give San Antonio a 95-93 edge.

"We didn't call a timeout at the end because they are such a great defensive team," Popovich said. "To have them set their halfcourt defense is probably not the best thing for an offense.

"We thought if we had everybody in movement, we might have a better chance to make a shot - and Roger did it."

Allen made a critical mistake on the ensuing inbound pass, losing his handle on the ball and turning it over to Ginobili, who drew a clear-path foul on Pierce.

"I think Ray kind of hesitated, and the ball slipped out of his hands and it just put us in a position where we had to foul," Pierce said. "I thought I fouled him when I was in front of him, but that was a crucial play. My foul really hurt us."

After making both clear-path free throws, Ginobili sank two more from the charity stripe, giving San Antonio some breathing room with a 99-93 cushion.

Garnett drilled a 3-pointer to draw Boston within 102-99 with five seconds left. But Mason and Michael Finley combined to make three free throws in the waning seconds, sealing the win for San Antonio.

Allen finished with 18 points while Rajon Rondo dished out 16 assists for the Celtics, who fell to 24-4 at home this season.

"I said it a couple days ago, I was concerned by this game because of the three games in that short of time and this was an afternoon game, and they had a week off," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I knew they would have great energy."