SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Tim Duncan didn't want to be congratulated
after the San Antonio Spurs clinched the top playoff seed in the
Western Conference and a third straight Midwest Division title
"It is nice, but I think we're going to go out and try to win
this thing,'' Duncan said after scoring 21 points in a 91-83 win
over the Utah Jazz.
Winning for the 12th time in 13 games and beating the Jazz for
the 13th straight time, the Spurs made sure Wednesday's home game
against Dallas won't matter. Dallas, which opened the season 14-0
but has struggled lately, can still tie the Spurs by winning at San
Antonio on Wednesday, but the Spurs hold the tiebreaker with a
better conference record.
"We knew there were a lot of games left early on in the season
when they jumped out to that big lead,'' said Duncan, who scored 15
in the third quarter and finished with 15 rebounds and nine
Tony Parker scored 25 and Emanuel Ginobili scored 14, including
a 3-pointer that ended the Jazz's final comeback attempt.
"I'm proud of the team, but it's just beginning,'' Parker said.
"We're going to make a run for it. Our goal is not to win the
conference or get the No. 1 seed, it's to win the championship.''
Karl Malone led the Jazz with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Andrei Kirilenko added 18 points off the bench and Matt Harpring
scored 12 for Utah, which hasn't beaten San Antonio in more than
"We ran into the same thing we always run into. They are tough
defensively. They really make it difficult,'' Utah coach Jerry
Sloan said. "One thing they do as well as anyone we play against
is they take us right out of our offense.''
About the best news for the Jazz on Monday was that there was no
chance of facing the Spurs in the playoffs. Utah, which hasn't
beaten San Antonio since Feb. 6, 2000, closes the regular season
Wednesday at Sacramento, where the Jazz also will begin the
playoffs this weekend.
San Antonio led 44-37 at halftime and pulled away early in the
third as the Jazz struggled from the field. Utah didn't make a
field goal in the third until Kirilenko's tip-in cut San Antonio's
lead to 52-41 with 7 minutes remaining.
Duncan went 6-for-7 in the quarter to put the Spurs up 69-54
entering the fourth, when the Jazz made one final late push.
Kirilenko scored seven during a 9-2 run that got Utah to 81-76
on Kirilenko's 3-pointer. Parker responded with a layup, but fueled
the Jazz rally by getting a technical for taunting. John Stockton
made the free throw with 1:56 left and Greg Ostertag followed with
a two-handed dunk that made it 83-79 San Antonio.
Parker made another jumper, then Malone got the Jazz back within
four points, but Ginobili ended the comeback with a 3-pointer that
made it 88-81 with about 50 seconds left.
"We kept fighting back but it seemed like they just kept making
their shots at the end,'' Harpring said.
Stockton, who may have been playing in his last regular-season
home game, finished with 10 assists. The 41-year-old will decide
this summer whether to retire.
"I'm not thinking about any of that other stuff. It's hard
enough as it is just concentrating on playing,'' Stockton said.
San Antonio's David Robinson, who is retiring after the
season, received a standing ovation during pregame introductions.
He finished with four points and three rebounds. ... After Malik
Rose's tip-in capped a 10-0 Spurs run that tied it at 20-all,
Harpring hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Jazz
the lead at the end of the first. ... Utah coach Jerry Sloan was
called for a technical with 4:27 left in the second quarter. Sloan
felt Ostertag was fouled while trying to get a shot off before the
24-second clock expired.