Finley scores 22 points in 22 minutes for Spurs

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Michael Finley used the lowly New York Knicks as a warmup for this week's big game against his former team.

Finley made all eight of his shots, including a season-high five 3-pointers, and the San Antonio Spurs used a decisive run in the third quarter to beat the Knicks 121-93 on Monday night.

He finished with 22 points in 22 minutes, and the game's wide margin gave him plenty of time to rest up for a showdown Thursday night at home against cross-state rival Dallas.

The Mavericks, who beat Philadelphia on Monday, have the best record in the Western Conference, one game ahead of the Spurs.

"They're coming in trying to establish themselves as a title contender," Finley said of Dallas, where he played for nine seasons before moving south to San Antonio. "We're trying to get to the point where we were last year, so this is a great matchup. It's a great time for us to let the world know that we're still a team to be reckoned with."

Tony Parker added 20 points for the Spurs, who shot a season-best 62.5 percent from the floor. Parker made seven of his nine attempts, and Nick Van Exel went 6-for-8 and finished with 14 points.

Parker also collected 12 assists, four of them coming on passes to Finley.

"Finley was hot, so I was trying to run plays and try to make sure I'd find him," Parker said. "As a point guard, it was great."

New York fell behind by 17 points in the second quarter, but a layup by Malik Rose to start the third narrowed San Antonio's lead to 61-54.

Knicks coach Larry Brown said it looked like his team lost their focus after drawing close.

"Once we cut the lead to seven, it's like I never saw a pass after that," Brown said. "We have a lot of young guys who maybe don't fully understand the importance of the little things."

A baseline jumper by Bruce Bowen on the next possession began a 27-7 run by the Spurs that sealed the win. San Antonio made 12 straight shots in the quarter.

Parker found Duncan for a layup to put San Antonio up by 21 and Finley's third 3-pointer of the quarter made it 96-65 with 1:39 left.

The loss was the 20th in the last 22 games for the Knicks. Seven of those losses have been by 20 points or more. New York is 4-24 on the road this season, worst in the NBA.

"We haven't played well much at all of late," said Stephon Marbury, New York's top scorer but who managed only 2 points on 1-for-9 shooting. "They pretty much did whatever they wanted to do in the second half."

Quentin Richardson led the Knicks with 14 points. Eddy Curry scored 13 and Steve Francis added 12.

The Spurs made their first four shots to jump to a quick lead, but New York got it down to 11-10 on a 3-pointer by Richardson and a pair of free throws by Curry.

A 15-footer by Sean Marks and a long jumper by Nick Van Exel put San Antonio up 35-23 late in the first.

The Spurs, who made 16 of their first 20 shots, stretched that lead to 44-27 early in the second on a 3-pointer by Finley before their offense stalled.

A fast-break layup by Francis and two free throws by Jalen Rose pulled the Knicks within 51-44 with 3:37 left in the first half.

Finley then hit his second 3-pointer to start an 8-2 run for San Antonio, but layups by Francis and Jackie Butler made it 61-52 at the break.

Game notes
Gregg Popovich is now 499-245 since becoming the Spurs'
head coach in 1996. ... San Antonio set a season mark by scoring 39
points in the third period. ... Parker's assist count matched the
game total for the Knicks. The Spurs recorded 31 assists. ... The
Spurs scored 23 fast-break points, while New York had eight.