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Old 11-12-05, 08:00 AM
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Spurs of a few spurts

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/b....129a8324.html

Spurs of a few spurts

Web Posted: 11/12/2005 12:47 AM CST

Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer
BOSTON — By now, the Spurs know what to expect. Year to year, they roll into town, take care of their business, listen to 297 questions about how Tim Duncan has never lost to Boston, shrug and move onto the next stop.


The Streak may make for good news for all the local hang up-and-listen psychiatrists, but rarely have the Spurs discussed it with Duncan.

"That's nothing to kid around with," Bruce Bowen said, "because I was here for four of those losses."

Bowen has since shed Boston green for the black and silver of the Spurs, allowing him the advantage of playing alongside Duncan. The alternative, as the Celtics can further attest after their humbling 103-82 loss Friday at TD Banknorth Garden, hasn't gotten any better.

With Duncan totaling 29 points and 12 rebounds, the Spurs beat Boston for the 16th consecutive time. All but one of those victories have come since the Spurs edged the Celtics for the rights to Duncan in the 1997 NBA draft lottery.

"A streak is a streak," Duncan said. "It's not because we specifically plan on doing it. We just try to play as hard as we can, and it's kind of happened that way over the years."

It's also happened because the Spurs have been nice enough to surround their star with more-than-capable talent. Tony Parker added 23 points and six assists while Bowen, Manu Ginobili and newcomer Melvin Sanders helped corral the Celtics' top two scorers, Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis.

With the exception of Bowen, who also contributed 12 points on just five shots, none of the Spurs' regulars had to play more than 32 minutes. They hope to take advantage of the rest tonight in Washington, the final stop on their five-game, weeklong trip.

Friday's victory was the Spurs' third in a row with the recipe the same in each. While Parker's fast start has been well documented, Duncan has quietly scored 24, 29 and 29 points in the past three games.

"There's absolutely no flair whatsoever," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Duncan. "Just basic, solid, beautiful basketball."

Much of that, Popovich thinks, has to do with Duncan's off-season. After spending the summer resting and eating properly, he's as lean as he's been in at least three years.

"For lack of a better phrase, I feel regenerated." Duncan said. "I'm having fun with basketball, so it's good to be out there."

Brent Barry and Michael Finley also are slowly beginning to feel better, though both missed their second consecutive game Friday, once again creating havoc for the Spurs' rotation.

While Ginobili returned to the starting lineup, Rasho Nesterovic took a seat. Popovich started Robert Horry in place of Nesterovic so Duncan wouldn't have to chase Raef LaFrentz out to the 3-point line.

Sean Marks even came off the bench in the first quarter to fill in at small forward. The Spurs opened the second quarter with a Marks-Nesterovic-Fabricio Oberto frontline.

As well as the Spurs started — they ran out to a 16-point lead 10 minutes into the game — they quickly lost their rhythm when Duncan and Parker took a seat on the bench at the end of the opening quarter. The Celtics took that as their cue, surging back until they had completely wiped out their deficit.

"We tried some different combinations and suffered from it," Popovich said, "so in the second half ... we substituted with a little bit more wisdom and not as much ignorance."

That meant keeping either Duncan or Parker on the floor until the game was secure. Not that the Spurs needed long to build back their lead.

Bowen opened the second half with a 3-pointer. Ginobili followed with another. Bowen added two more. Seven minutes into the third quarter, the Spurs were up 70-51.

"I thought right when they got up in the third quarter, we just succumbed to the lead and gave in," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "And I don't like teams that give in."

The Celtics began the evening having won three of their first four games, two of which were decided on a shot at the buzzer. The other two went into overtime.

However, Duncan, as he has often done here, quickly took the drama out of Friday's meeting.

"Somebody asked me before the game if this was a measuring stick," Rivers said. "If it is, then there's your answer."



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"We would have two less championships here if it wasn't for Manu Ginobili," Popovich said. "In my book, Manu Ginobili is the stud of the world.
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Old 11-12-05, 08:32 AM
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"There's absolutely no flair whatsoever," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Duncan. "Just basic, solid, beautiful basketball." ------ Yes, and we're enjoying every minute of it !!
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" I am not going to complain. This season I really want to show that I have climbed yet another step. I want to show some regularity and bring something to the team every evening. I am on a mission! " ---T.P.
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