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NBA: Spurs win streak goes to six, knock off 76ers

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 9, 2012 in Sports
Philadelphia - At the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers hosted San Antonio and discovered what many teams are finding out the hard way as a surging Spurs defense carried the team to a 100-90 win on the road.
The Sixers are one of the big surprises in the NBA this season, with a well-coached team, good defense, an array of shooters scoring in double digits each game and leading the league in fewest turnovers. As a result, they’ve landed atop the Atlantic Division in the East, staying there most of the season, ahead of the perennial Boston Celtics powerhouse.
Although the Sixers have one of the better defenses this season in the Eastern Conference, against the Spurs they discovered a better one. As a result, Philadelphia shot just 41 percent from the field in the game.
Andre Iguodala, one of the top scorers for Philly, had 17 points at the end of three quarters, but went scoreless in the crucial final frame, as Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green kept him in check.
After losing four in a row and eight of ten in Philadelphia, the Spurs five-game winning streak looked challenged, faced with the daunting task of stopping a Sixers team with a 13-3 home court record this season.
But in typical Spurs fashion of late, a group of emerging young players are making major contributions to the team, meshing with veterans Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, helping create a confident ebb and flow unseen in recent years. On Wednesday in Philadelphia, it would start with Gary Neal coming off the bench, igniting for 12 first-quarter points.
Parker, once again, was sensational, continuing to carry the Spurs as they await the return of shooting guard Manu Ginobili, scheduled to play Saturday in New Jersey.
Coming off a season-high 42 point performance two games ago against Oklahoma City, Parker scored 37 points against the Sixers, including 13-of-13 from the free throw line, and dished eight assists in 38 minutes.
Indicative of the night it would be for the Sixers came on two sequences, quickly following one another in the second quarter and followed a Philadelphia 10-0 run giving them a 38-36 lead.
On the first, Parker grabbed his own rebound after a missed shot, got the ball out to Green who then missed, but Duncan scored on a put-back, and was fouled.
The second came with the game tied at 42. With four-two fast break numbers and a seemingly guaranteed score, the two Spurs defenders forced a Thaddeus Young miss. With the ball going to Philadelphia on the inbounds, Jrue Holiday missed a shot, Elton Brand grabbed the board and Parker quickly stole the ball, earning two free throws off a Brand foul.
The sequence helped San Antonio carry a 48-45 lead into the half, and most importantly, the Spurs confidence had carried them through the first two quarters.
The trend continued in the second half as San Antonio mounted a double-digit lead,
going on an 8-2 run early in the fourth quarter, pushing their lead to 81-69 and keeping pressure on the Sixers.
Although Philly closed to within five, 95-90, with less than two minutes to play, a Parker hesitation mid-range jumper put pressure back on the home team.
In the end, the Spurs extended their winning streak to six, and won their fifth road game of the season, including four in a row. They improved their record to 18-9.
Philadelphia’s record dropped to 18-8, but they still maintain a three-game lead over the Celtics.
Parker’s performance was followed by Neal’s, who finished the game with 18 points, going 6-of-9 from the field, including 4-for-4 from beyond the ark.
The 35-year-old Duncan had another double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. His play this season is due to great conditioning, well-managed minutes and the basketball-smart Tiago Splitter, who hit 7-of-10 from the field and scored 15 points.
Splitter’s off-the-bench inside presence continues helping the Spurs defense and by season’s end, barring injury, will be a dominant force.
On Spurs Radio after the game, assistant coach Don Newman noted Parker’s play of late, stating, “He’s playing a great brand of basketball, putting us on his back. He’s at an all-star pace.”
For the losers, Louis Williams led the way with 22 points and adding to Iguodala’s 17 were Young with 16 points and Jrue Holiday with 15. Brand notched another double-double with 11 points and 13 boards.
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