Earning their Spurs
Duncan dominates as San Antonio extends NBA recordPosted: Sunday February 16, 2003 6:37 PM
Updated: Monday February 17, 2003 1:56 AM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo finally ended, meaning the San Antonio Spurs are at last heading home from the longest road trip in franchise history.
And if the Spurs' NBA-record eight straight wins at the end of that nine-game trip are any indication, nobody will miss the cowboys and Ferris wheels in the SBC Center: The best show in town is just arriving.
Malik Rose had 15 points and nine rebounds and hit two go-ahead free throws with 1:33 left, while Tony Parker had 18 points and seven assists as the Spurs finished their odyssey with eight straight wins after losing the opener at Minnesota on Jan. 27.
"You don't plan on going 8-1 on a road trip," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "At the beginning, we wouldn't have thought that would have happened. We're thrilled, but hopefully we're not that thrilled."
The Spurs beat five playoff contenders during the trip, which stretched through the All-Star break and across all four time zones. Yet after 22 days on the road, San Antonio still had enough hustle and poise to hold off the Kings in the NBA's toughest road arena.
So was Duncan happy with the trip?
"We wanted to win all nine," he said, "but there's no disappointment at all."
The Spurs have won 17 of 20 since Jan. 1, and they capped their trip with victories over the Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers. What's more, they did it all without David Robinson, who's on the injured list.
The Spurs won with the hustle and heart that defines their roster. San Antonio was nursing a 98-97 lead with Parker grabbed a loose ball from Keon Clark and sprinted down for a layup attempt. He missed it, but Ginobili tipped it in.
With 14.1 seconds left, Parker missed a free throw that could have given San Antonio a three-point lead -- but Ginobili again grabbed the offensive rebound and made an ensuing free throw. He finished with a career-high 15 points.
"He does those little things -- gets loose balls, steals, offensive rebounds," Popovich said. "I love the way he competes and plays."
"It takes time to get used to the guys," said Ginobili, an Argentine who is the two-time MVP of the Italian League. "I'm still getting used to the league. I don't think I really proved a lot to the NBA yet."
Vlade Divac had 22 points and nine rebounds as Sacramento, the NBA's best home team over the past three seasons, lost at Arco Arena for just the fifth time this season.
The Spurs are the only visiting team to win twice in Sacramento this season; Dallas was the only team to do it last season.
"We don't like to lose in our home building, but they played very well and got all the offensive rebounds at the key times," Divac said. "We didn't rebound very well at all."
Wearing the uniforms of the 1965 Cincinnati Royals on Oscar Robertson Day at Arco Arena, the Kings played without leading scorer Chris Webber and lost coach Rick Adelman to an ejection at halftime. Sacramento led down the stretch, but managed just one field goal in the final 2:55.
Mike Bibby had 17 points and eight assists, but he airballed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left and the Kings down 102-99.
"We kept telling each other, 'Don't worry about the refs,' but I think we got caught up in it once in a while," Bibby said.
Adelman was tossed for the first time this season -- just the fifth time in his career -- for protesting a noncall at the halftime buzzer. Referee Steve Javie tossed Adelman after the coach had stopped arguing.
Adelman's odd ejection capped a series of questionable calls by the officiating crew of Javie, Tim Donaghy and Scott Wall. Donaghy also gave technical fouls to Divac and Bibby for arguing calls, while Sacramento was called for 28 fouls to San Antonio's 15.
Notes: The Kings honored Robertson throughout the game. He sat courtside next to owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. ... The Kings wore Royals jerseys as part of an NBA initiative dubbed Hardwood Classics Nights. Seven more teams will hold a similar event this season, honoring a star player and wearing vintage uniforms.