Coming off a vital - if controversial - victory as they jockey for seeding in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs are hoping they won't need any last-second heroics on Monday night.
Tim Duncan will return to the lineup after taking a night off when the banged-up Spurs visit the Golden State Warriors, with San Antonio still seeking a Southwest Division title with two games left in the regular season.
As they prepare for a postseason without Manu Ginobili, the Spurs (52-28) could certainly use home-court advantage in at least the first round, and Sunday night's 95-92 win at Sacramento was a major boost.
With Duncan in street clothes resting his sore knees, Michael Finley broke a tie with a 3-pointer in the final seconds for San Antonio. The basket stood despite the fact that the shot clock appeared to have expired, as the play was deemed unreviewable and the Spurs were given the victory.
Even San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich admitted his team caught a break.
``I looked on the film, and it looked like it was still in his hand (when the shot clock expired),'' Popovich said. ``I didn't study it, but I looked real quickly, and it looked like it was still in his hands.''
The Spurs' frontcourt was depleted without Duncan, so Tony Parker carried the load against the Kings with 25 points and nine assists, while fellow guard Roger Mason added 22 points.
The win pulled San Antonio into a three-way tie for third place in the West, with division rival Houston and Portland also at 52-28. Second-place Denver is just one game ahead as first-round matchups remain very much in limbo going into the final three days of the regular season.
The Spurs will at least hope to benefit from the return of Duncan on Monday. The former league MVP has been missing time sporadically due to his knees, and he has struggled lately, averaging 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in his last four starts.
He will need to be ready to run with the fast-paced Warriors, who've won four of six as they near the end of a disappointing season.
Coach Don Nelson sat on the bench but didn't coach the team and Golden State (29-51) played with only seven players at Utah on Saturday, but the Warriors still beat the Jazz 118-108.
With Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, Brandan Wright and Stephen Jackson all out, C.J. Watson scored a career-high 38 points in Salt Lake City, while little-used rookie reserve Rob Kurz also had a career best with 21.
``We just played loose,'' Kurz said. ``We realized that we are out of the playoffs and had nothing to lose. We just played fearlessly and played together.''
Going into its final home game of the season, Golden State is 21-19 in Oakland. The Spurs needed 32 points each from Ginobili and Duncan - and overtime - to win 110-105 there Feb. 2, avoiding what would have been their third straight defeat at Oracle Arena.
The teams' most recent meeting was also tight, as the Spurs won 107-106 at home on March 24, propelled by Mason's winning jumper in the final minute. That win moved the Spurs to 35-5 all-time against the Warriors with Duncan in the lineup.
At least the Spurs did not go to OT last night so hope they will have enough time to get there and get ready since it is not that far and the game starts late too. Plus Timmay is back....
Go Spurs Go
Spurs need it. Every win counts...
“I asked them if it wasn't too much trouble, if I wasn't being too pushy, if they could execute what we were trying to do. And if it didn't make them too angry, if they also wanted to play some defense on the other end, that would be great.”
NBA.com - Referee Assignments
Apr 13, 2009
San Antonio @ Golden State--S. Javie; R. Mott; D. Richardson
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
---Winston Churchill (1903)
Wednesday is the last game of the regular season, the last home game for the Spurs, Fan Appreciation Night. Send everyone home with a win...
Whatever happens, I will be ready to cheer the team on because the REAL Season is about to start!!!!
NO NEED TO RUSH
Cutters are coming
Screens are being set
Pass is PINPOINT PERFECT
and somebody ends up WIDE OPEN
No Flash No Gimmicks NO CHANCE OF STOPPING IT
IT'S THE QUIET GUYS YOU SHOULD FEAR
because words are small and GAME IS BIG
I AM NINJA!
"We will either find a way, or make one."ť
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