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Spurs' defense suffocates Nets' offense in win

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- In between runs to the bathroom,
Tim Duncan had enough left to help San Antonio keep its own run
alive and end New Jersey's.

Still affected by the flu-like symptoms that kept him out of the
Spurs' last game, Duncan struggled early but made some key plays
down the stretch as San Antonio beat New Jersey 83-73 Friday night
to snap the Nets' 12-game home winning streak and prevent them from
tying the franchise record.

Manu Ginobili scored 22 points and Tony Parker added 19 for the
Spurs (39-10), who won their season-high eighth game in a row and
have won 12 of their last 13.

Interspersed between his exits, Duncan scored 10 of his 12
points in the second half, including six in the fourth quarter.

"It took him almost the whole game to feel comfortable with his
shot," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He had to hit the
bathroom about seven or eight times during the game. We tried not
to play him too many minutes in a row, tried to pace him in between
bathroom runs."

Duncan missed five of his first six shots to start the game, but
helped the Spurs pull away in the final four minutes after running
to the locker room during a timeout midway through the quarter.

With the Spurs up 69-66 in what had developed into a
back-and-forth game, Duncan rebounded a miss by Parker and scored
in the lane off a pass from Nick Van Exel with 4:12 left. A minute
later, he rebounded a miss by Van Exel that led to Bruce Bowen's
3-pointer to extend the lead to eight. Duncan followed that with a
bank shot that built the lead to 76-66.

"I made it through, that's all I can say," Duncan said after
emerging from the trainer's room. "I didn't play a great game, but
it was just good to be out there. I wasn't 100 percent, but I
helped the team win and that's what it's all about."

Vince Carter led New Jersey (26-22) with 21 points, but shot
10-for-27 from the field. After shooting 18-for-37 (49 percent) and
scoring 42 points in the first half, the Nets dropped to 34 percent
(13-for-38) and scored just 31 points in the second half.

Bowen was particularly effective defending Carter, who went to
the foul line just once in the game.

"He did a great job not fouling him and making him take some
tough shots," Popovich said.

New Jersey trailed 59-52 to start the fourth quarter after
shooting 3-for-17 in the third, but made six of its first eight
shots while San Antonio went more than three minutes without a
field goal. That allowed the Nets to go up 62-61, but it would be
their last lead.

"They made us pay for turnovers with baskets at the other
end," Carter said. "Offensive rebounds late hurt us. We fell
apart a little bit. It was two entirely different halves."

New Jersey's last home loss had come against Charlotte on Dec.
14. During the streak, the Nets beat several of the NBA's top
teams, including Cleveland, Detroit and Miami.

"We played against one of the top two or three teams in the
league," said Richard Jefferson, who shot 4-for-12 and finished
with 15 points. "We beat some very, very good teams during the
streak. Now we have to try and continue our home dominance."

Game notes
Nets C Jason Collins was inactive with a thigh contusion
suffered against New York on Wednesday ... Spurs F Fabricio Oberto
(left ankle sprain) was inactive ... Duncan "hadn't done anything
for the last four days" before Friday's game, according to
Popovich, but was able to eat dinner Thursday and lunch Friday ...
Nets F Clifford Robinson played in his 1,296th game, tying him for
10th place in NBA history with Mark Jackson, currently a Nets
broadcaster ... San Antonio improved to 8-0 against Atlantic
Division teams.