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article imageNBA: Duncan and Parker ‘magnificent’ as Spurs streak goes to 11

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 21, 2012 in Sports
Salt Lake City - Hosting the Spurs on Monday, the Utah Jazz became the latest victim in San Antonio’s current string of last-second dramatics, a 106-102 affair which stretched the visitors win streak to 11, longest in the NBA this season.
Faced with the reality of losing Manu Ginobili, yet again, and Tiago Splitter due to injuries suffered two nights ago in the dramatic overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs were forced to “play with whoever is left,” head coach Gregg Popovich said before the the game, MySA reports. The burden, as it has been for much of the season, fell on the shoulders of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan..
And play the Spurs did. Trailing the Jazz throughout much of the first half, San Antonio managed to outscore the Jazz in the second quarter, 30-23, taking a 56-53 lead at intermission, thanks to Parker’s three free throws in the last 12 seconds before the horn.
The Jazz started the third quarter on a 13-0 run, opening up a 10-point lead before Popovich managed to call a timeout. From that point, San Antonio put forth its best effort, tying the game on a three-pointer from Gary Neal at the buzzer, ending the quarter.
In the fourth, Utah picked up its fifth team foul at the 9:48 mark, putting the Spurs in the bonus and allowing them to shoot free throws the remainder of the game. The contest remained tight throughout the final frame, with neither team able to mount more than a three-point lead until late.
A jumper by Utah’s Al Jefferson at the 5:06 mark in the fourth gave the Jazz a 96-94 lead. It would be their last, as the Spurs regained the lead on another Neal trey. From there, San Antonio provided more drama in an already drama-filled season.
After passing up an open look at a three-pointer with under three minutes to play, Richard Jefferson nailed the game-winning trey with 6.5 seconds to play.
After the game, Popovich found “whoever is left” was once again led by the team’s nucleus. “Tony’s an All-Star and did what he’s been doing for us all year: Scoring, finding people, playing tough defense, being a leader,” the coach noted. “We had a lot of people participate tonight. I thought Tim was his same solid self. What he does for us defensively doesn’t show up, but he rebounded, he scored, and we ran the ball through him for a lot of the game. Those two guys were magnificent, and the bench was good again.”
Although the Jazz had five players score in double figures, led by Al Jefferson’s double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, the loss dropped their record to 15-16.
The Spurs improved to 23-9 for the season, including 7-0 on their current rodeo road trip, a journey which sees them sitting atop the Southwest Division and in the second of a back-to-back with Portland on Tuesday.
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