BOSTON (AP) -- Tim Duncan keeps hearing about his unbeaten record
against the Boston Celtics. On Friday night, he led a comeback that
kept it alive.
"Every time I come here they tell me that, so I'm kind of
aware," he said after scoring 26 points in a 92-84 win in which
the San Antonio Spurs took control in the fourth quarter.
Duncan is 14-0 against the Celtics since being taken in 1997
with the top draft pick, a choice Boston hoped to get with one of
its two selections that year. But the Spurs got it and the Celtics
have struggled ever since.
Trailing 66-59 after three quarters, the Spurs opened the fourth
with a 25-6 run in which 18 of their points came off Boston's eight
turnovers. The Spurs scored the last 13 points of the surge, seven
by Duncan, and they went on to their sixth straight victory. San
Antonio outscored Boston 33-18 in the fourth quarter.
"For three quarters we weren't doing anything aggressively. In
the fourth quarter we did and the difference was huge," said Manu
Ginobili, who had 21 points.
The Celtics last beat San Antonio 107-83 on Jan. 8, 1997. They
had a chance to do it again until another fourth-quarter flop, a
problem all season.
"For some reason, we just melt down in the fourth quarter,"
said Paul Pierce, who led Boston with 25 points. "It seems like
it's in our head right now."
Despite their sixth straight win, the Spurs were outrebounded
44-29 and Duncan's streak of double-doubles in all eight of the
Spurs' previous games this season ended when he finished with six
"The ball just bounces the wrong way sometimes," he said. "We
had the effort. We were going after the ball."
The Spurs, playing their third game in four nights, trailed most
of the first three quarters. But Tony Parker had eight of his 16
points in the fourth quarter after going scoreless in 32 minutes
Thursday night in a win at Philadelphia.
The Celtics increased a 43-37 halftime lead to 66-53 with 2:47
left in the third quarter. San Antonio got the last six points of
the period and the first eight of the fourth to take a 67-66 lead,
its first since 30-29 with 4:49 left in the second quarter.
Boston regained the lead on Gary Payton's 14-footer that made it
68-67 with 9:55 left before Malik Rose tied it with a free throw.
Raef LaFrentz gave the Celtics their last lead at 72-71 with two
free throws before the Spurs got the next 13 points and took an
84-72 advantage with 3:53 remaining and Boston dropped to 3-4.
"We are young. One thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong,"
said Payton, who scored 16 points. "If we played the fourth
quarter like we play the first three quarters, we'd be 7-0."
Trailing 72-71, Duncan started the 13-0 surge with two free
throws with 7:33 left in the game, Ginobili hit a 3-pointer and
Duncan followed with a dunk. Then Parker stole the ball and made a
layup, Duncan was fouled after making another steal and hit both
shots, and Parker converted a layup.
The Celtics finally stopped the run when LaFrentz made a
3-pointer. But Ginobili came right back with a 3-pointer that put
the Spurs on top 87-74 with 3:06 to go.
"We did a good job hanging in and grinding it out," San
Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "As the second half wound down,
we played very good defense and that gave us an opportunity to
generate some emotion and some juice and, at the offensive end, we
started making some shots."
^Notes:@San Antonio is 20-1 in its last 21 games against Boston. ...
Duncan had 34 points and 13 rebounds one night earlier against the
76ers. ... Al Jefferson, the Celtics' 19-year-old rookie power
forward, had a season-high 13 points and added six rebounds in 23