for this game

Shorthanded Spurs withstand Iverson as Pistons' struggles continue

Feb 20, 2009 - 5:41 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Allen Iverson gave the San Antonio Spurs all they could handle on Thursday night. But even without Manu Ginobili, the Spurs survived and snapped a two-game skid.

The Spurs knocked down five free throws over the final 58 seconds and buckled down on the other end to erase a one-point deficit and hold off the Pistons for an 83-79 triumph. The team announced earlier in the day that Ginobili would be out for two to three weeks with a stress reaction in his right leg.

"That sucks. But we've done it before," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "What are you going to do, sit back and cry about it? No. We're going to play and hopefully, we'll be a better team coming out because of it. ... It's important to get any win that we can because of how close the race is in the West."

With the win, San Antonio improved to 4-3 on its eight-game road trip as the rodeo occupies the AT&T Center. The Pistons, however, have tied a season high with five consecutive losses.

"It was a defensive game tonight, but we'll take it. We needed that win," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "This is good for our confidence. Now we want to finish (the trip) on a good note in Washington. Defensively, in the fourth quarter, we got the stops that we needed."

Iverson carried Detroit back from a seven-point deficit, scoring 12 of his 31 points during the fourth quarter. He buried a pair of mid-range jumpers midway through the period, then drove to the hole and kicked out to Rasheed Wallace for a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three.

Shortly thereafter, the Pistons finally pulled ahead, as Iverson crossed Parker over for a short jumper, then exploded to the basket for a layup to give his team a 79-78 edge with 1:21 remaining. But that was the last bucket of the night for Detroit.

"Allen was going pretty good tonight. I thought he was our most aggressive guy," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "All night long he got to the paint. He's the reason we cut it to one."

Tony Parker was fouled on a drive to the basket and put the Spurs on top for good with a pair of free throws. Iverson once again took command on the following possession, but his heroics finally ran out. He misfired from 13 feet and Bruce Bowen was subsequently fouled, burying both foul shots.

"I've got to come up with that one. Couldn't get a better look. I kind of rushed it," Iverson said. "I had more time than I thought I had. And I kind of rushed it. Honestly, when you talk about plays like that, they matter so much, but just getting to that point to where we need a desperation make, that's the frustrating part. We just put ourselves in a bad predicament having to take a three with nine seconds left."

Facing a three-point deficit, Iverson went for the tie moments later but misfired from the top of the key and Tim Duncan's 1-of-2 effort at the foul line sealed the game up.

"Good teams realize it's a 48-minute game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Obviously, we started out slow, but I would have been surprised if we didn't hang in there. You don't know if you're going to win or lose, but nobody panicked. They just played the game."

Detroit wasted one of the best efforts of the season from Iverson, who has yet to hit his stride in his new team's system. The Pistons have slipped to just one game over the .500 mark at 27-26. The All-Star guard established himself early, scoring eight points in the first quarter to open up an early lead.

But the Spurs took command in the second frame, using a 13-2 run to open up a 42-38 advantage.

"That's happened to us before," Parker said of the team's slow start. "Just keep playing. That's the key. You never know what might happen."

Parker led the way for San Antonio's offense, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists. Duncan controlled the paint, collecting 18 points and 18 boards.

It was another tough shooting effort for Wallace, who was just 4-of-17 from the floor, including a potential go-ahead attempt from 17 feet with 11 seconds left.