Parker, Duncan help Spurs hold off Suns

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Tony Parker went from getting a tongue-lashing from his coach two nights ago to receiving praise
for his offensive and defensive heroics Saturday night.

With San Antonio leading by just one point, Parker hit a soft runner in the lane over reigning MVP Steve Nash with 35 seconds to go to help the Spurs beat the Phoenix Suns 97-91.

"The play we called broke down. He made the play on his own. That was all him," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Tony finally woke up and competed his butt off. He got a couple of loose balls and had a good play on Steve Nash."

Parker, who finished with 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting, also got help as Tim Duncan had 24 points and 13 rebounds for his league-leading eighth double-double.

Shawn Marion had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Nash added 14 points and 10 assists in a game that included four technical fouls by the two coaching staffs.

In the first rematch of last year's Western Conference finals that San Antonio won in five games, the Suns were without standout Amare Stoudemire, who is not expected to return until midseason.

Also, Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa did not play in the second half after spraining his left knee when the Spurs' Manu Ginobili fell into it. Barbosa finished with 14 points.

The Suns, who were outrebounded on the offensive end 17-8, gave up 21 second-chance buckets compared to seven of their own. They were also held to 16 points below their average of nearly 107.

"That's why we lost -- because our offense wasn't high-octane," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We also played one of the best, if not the best, defenses. We fought and we had chances to win, but we couldn't get it done."

San Antonio led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, on Michael Finley's jumper with just under 11 minutes left.

Jackson's layup brought Phoenix within 85-81 with 7:23 remaining, and Nash made it a three-point game 44 seconds later on a free-throw for a technical on Spurs assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Duncan pushed the lead back 90-82 with two free throws with 5:17 left, before Phoenix made its final push.

Nash's layup with 2:25 left brought the Suns within three again, at 92-89, and Marion's dunk nearly a minute later made it a one-point game. However, Phoenix didn't score again.

With Parker's hand in his face, Nash forced up an errant shot with 27 seconds left. Robert Horry then hit two free throws, and Parker made one to give the Suns their first road loss of the season.

"Down the stretch, we had shots we just didn't hit them," Nash said. "We didn't get a lot of bounces that went our way. We missed some wide-open shots. We missed some free throws. We played a good game, but it still doesn't feel good to lose."

Game notes
Spurs forward Bruce Bowen began the day leading the NBA in 3-point shooting at 67 percent (14-of-21). ... Finley returned to the Spurs' lineup after missing five games with a tight groin. ... Melvin Sanders, Brent Barry (back sprain) and Sean Marks were inactive for the Spurs.... Jared Reiner, Stoudemire and Dijon Thompson were inactive for the Suns. ... Barbosa sprained the MCL in his left knee as time expired at halftime.