SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- The San Antonio Spurs have had the best record in the NBA before, but Tony Parker may be the difference this season.
Parker scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and Tim Duncan fell one assist shy of a triple-double as the Spurs clinched the best record in the NBA for the fifth time in eight years with a 91-83 victory over the Utah Jazz.
San Antonio has had the best record more than any other team in the past decade but has won the championship once just once - after the lockout-shortened 1999 season.
"Our major goal has been to get better and incorporate some different people into the team," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "The face that we ended up with the best record is great, but that wasn't the initial goal."
As center David Robinson's skills have diminished, the Spurs have struggled to find a player to complement Duncan. But Parker may have solved that problem as he has evolved into one of the league's best point guards in just his second season.
"Obviously, you try to play well all season and get the best record possible," Parker said. "We got the best record in the league now and we're just trying to be ready for the playoffs. We're in the West, so obviously it's going to be tough."
"T Parker was the story, he took over the game," Duncan said. "He got in the middle and made some big shots and just took it away from them."
San Antonio dominated the second and third quarters and took a 69-54 lead into the fourth. But Utah opened the final period with eight straight points and pulled within 70-62 after Mark Jackson buried consecutive jumpers.
The Spurs had an 81-171 cushion with 3:59 remaining, but the Jazz responded with eight of the next 10 points. Andrei Kirilenko had a dunk and a 3-pointer and John Stockton made 1-of-2 free throws before feeding Greg Ostertag for a dunk to bring the Jazz within 83-79 at the 1:44 mark.
But Parker responded with a jumper from the top of the key and, after a layup by Jazz forward Karl Malone, assisted on rookie Emanuel Ginobili's 3-pointer for an 88-81 lead with 52 seconds left.
Parker made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 35 seconds as San Antonio held on for its 13th consecutive victory over Utah.
"We have played very well against them," Duncan said. "We try to limit their easy baskets as much as possible and make them work for anything they get."
"I thought our second group did a good job of getting us back, but we just couldn't finish them, again," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We ran into the same thing we always run into. One thing they do as well as anyone we play against is take us right out of our offense. We don't have the courage or toughness to stay with what we are doing."
Duncan had 21 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, falling just shy of his third career triple-double. Ginobili finished with 14 points as the Spurs reached 60 wins for just the second time in franchise history.
San Antonio shot 53 percent (37-of-70) from the floor to overcome 67 percent (14-of-21) free-throw shooting and 20 turnovers.
Malone scored 20 points and Kirilenko added 18 for the Jazz, who locked up seventh place in the Western Conference playoff race.
Malone scored seven points in the opening seven minutes as Utah jumped to a 20-10 lead. But Speedy Claxton made three consecutive baskets as San Antonio answered with a 10 consecutive points.
The Jazz had a 25-23 lead with 10:22 left in the second quarter, but the Spurs took the lead 68 seconds later on Ginobili's 3-pointer, which sparked a 21-8 run.
San Antonio had a 44-37 halftime advantage and dominated the third as Duncan scored 15 points. He scored nine points in the final 5:15 and the Spurs had their largest lead heading into the fourth quarter.