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Saturday, April 14, 2012

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Like a fine wine: San Antonio's Tim Duncan goes up for a shot as Memphis' Rudy Gay (left) and Marc Gasol defend in the fourth quarter on Thursday night. The Spurs beat the Grizzlies 107-97. AP

Duncan, Spurs down Grizzlies


SAN ANTONIO — Not since the old days does Tim Duncan remember having the ball run through him so many times.

But forget the old days. He was just relieved to get the San Antonio Spurs back to how they looked last week.

Making good on a guarantee that the West's second-winningest team would start playing like it again, Duncan had 28 points and 12 rebounds and the Spurs shook off their funk to top the surging Memphis Grizzlies 107-97 on Thursday night.

Duncan matched his season-high a night after the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers humiliated the Spurs on their home court. Lakers center Andrew Bynum made Duncan look particularly outplayed while becoming just the second NBA player in the last dozen years to corral 30 rebounds in a game.

"We got back on track. That was the key to the whole thing, getting back on track," Duncan said. "Played awful against the Lakers. Got blown out, came back in there tonight against another good team. A much better effort."

Manu Ginobili added 20 points and Tony Parker scored 13. The Spurs had won 11 in a row before losing their last two — the Big Three didn't play at all the first one against Utah — and narrowly escaped their first three-game slide this season.

Rudy Gay led Memphis with 19 points. The Grizzlies had their four-game winning streak halted after their rally from a late 14-point deficit fizzled in the final minutes, and fell 1½ games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 4 playoff seed.

It was only the third loss in 12 games for the Grizzlies since the return of Zach Randolph.

"We got close. We were there," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "It was a ball game until the end."

Duncan, who scored 20 in the second half, guaranteed after the Lakers game that the Spurs would respond from their listless performance. So frustrated was Duncan following Wednesday's night 98-84 loss that he said he was grateful to be playing a back-to-back, which the health-conscious Spurs typically greet with groans.

San Antonio steadily fed Duncan through its signature "4-Down" system in the second half, to the point that Duncan said afterward that it felt like the old days.

"He stepped it up to a whole other level," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He was phenomenal. He was a monster."

San Antonio (41-16) is a half-game behind Oklahoma City (42-16) for first place. The Spurs own the tiebreaker.

After looking helpless against Bynum, the Spurs matched Memphis in rebounding and held Randolph to 10 points and 11 boards. Gay shot just 7 of 22 one night after he had 32 points against Phoenix.

O.J. Mayo scored 16 points and Marreese Speights added 15 for the Grizzlies.

Clippers 95, Timberwolves 82

In Minneapolis, Blake Griffin had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Caron Butler scored 17 points to lead Los Angeles to a victory over the Timberwolves.

Mo Williams had 14 points and five assists in his return for the Clippers, who are a game behind the Lakers for the third seed in the West and 1½ games ahead of Memphis for the fourth seed.

Michael Beasley had 14 points and 10 rebounds and J.J. Barea had 10 points and 11 assists for Minnesota, which has lost eight straight games.

The Wolves were playing without All-Star Kevin Love, who missed the game with a mild concussion.

Bulls 96, Heat 86 (OT)

In Chicago, C.J. Watson scored 16 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation, and the Bulls pulled away in overtime to beat Miami.

Carlos Boozer led Chicago with 19 points and Kyle Korver added 17 points for the Bulls, who outscored Miami 12-2 in overtime to boost their lead in the Eastern Conference to four games.

LeBron James scored 30 points for Miami, but missed a free throw that would have made it a two-possession game late in regulation. Dwyane Wade added 21 points, Chris Bosh scored 20, but the Heat lost for the sixth time in 11 games.

Pistons 109, Bobcats 85

In Charlotte, Greg Monroe had 25 points and 11 rebounds to help the Pistons salvage a four-game road trip with a rout of the woeful Bobcats.

Brandon Knight added 21 points and seven assists while Jason Maxiell was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and finished with 17 points.

Monroe shot 11-for-14 from the field in the victory.

But they had no such problems with Charlotte, which has lost 14 games in a row and became the first team this season to lose 50 games.

Mavericks 112, Warriors 103

In Oakland, Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and former Golden State lottery pick Brandan Wright added 16 points and nine rebounds, leading Dallas past the Warriors.

Jason Kidd added 12 assists, 10 rebounds and nine points to pace the Mavericks to a 19-point lead before hanging on late, moving 1½ games behind Memphis for the Western Conference's fifth playoff seed.

David Lee had 30 points and eight rebounds and rookie Klay Thompson finished with 24 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the shorthanded Warriors.

Jeremy Tyler started at center for Golden State and had two points and five rebounds in 12 minutes of action.

The Warriors have lost three straight and are already eliminated from playoff contention.

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