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Spurs set mark for wins on road



Published: Thu, February 20, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The team beat five playoff contenders during its eight-game tear.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Somewhere between Minneapolis and Sacramento, the San Antonio Spurs found a winning formula that worked almost everywhere they went during three weeks on the road.

Tim Duncan had 34 points and 12 rebounds, and Emanuel Ginobili grabbed two key offensive rebounds in the final seconds as the Spurs set a league record with their eighth straight win on one road trip, beating the Sacramento Kings 104-101 on Sunday.

No team had ever won eight straight games on one road trip before the Spurs, who lost the trip's opener to Minnesota.

With little fanfare or advance warning, the Spurs used their three-week exile from the SBC Center -- thanks to the San Antonio Stock Show & amp; Rodeo -- to play their best basketball of the season.

In fact, Duncan thinks it might be San Antonio's best run since the Spurs' 1999 championship season.

"Every one of our guys is filling his spot well and getting the job done," Duncan said. "I'm just glad it's over. We get to spend some time at home now, and that's a luxury. We wanted to win all nine, but there's no disappointment at all."

Malik Rose had 15 points and nine rebounds and hit two go-ahead free throws with 1:33 left, and Tony Parker had 18 points and seven assists.

Beating contenders

"You don't plan on going 8-1 on a road trip," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "At the beginning, we wouldn't have thought that would have happened. We're thrilled, but hopefully we're not that thrilled."

The Spurs beat five playoff contenders during the trip, which stretched through the All-Star break and across all four time zones. Yet, after 22 days on the road, San Antonio still had enough hustle and poise to hold off the Pacific Division-leading Kings.

San Antonio opened the season 6-10 on the road, losing to Denver, Atlanta, Golden State and New York along the way. Everything changed when the Spurs left town on Jan. 26 for the longest road trip in franchise history.

"This does a tremendous amount for our confidence," Duncan said. "At the beginning of the season, we were giving games away on the road."

Hustle and heart

The Spurs won with the hustle and heart that defines their roster. San Antonio was nursing a 98-97 lead when Parker grabbed a loose ball from Keon Clark and sprinted down for a layup attempt. He missed it, but Ginobili tipped it in.

With 14.1 seconds left, Parker missed a free throw that could have given San Antonio a three-point lead. But Ginobili again grabbed the offensive rebound and made an ensuing free throw. He finished with a career-high 15 points.

"It takes time to get used to the guys," said Ginobili, an Argentine who is the two-time MVP of the Italian League. "I'm still getting used to the league. I don't think I really proved a lot to the NBA yet."

Vlade Divac had 22 points and nine rebounds as Sacramento, the NBA's best home team over the past three seasons, lost at Arco Arena for just the fifth time this season.

"We don't like to lose in our home building, but they played very well and got all the offensive rebounds at the key times," Divac said. "We didn't rebound very well at all."

Coach tossed

Wearing the uniforms of the 1965 Cincinnati Royals on Oscar Robertson Day at Arco Arena, the Kings played without leading scorer Chris Webber and lost coach Rick Adelman to an ejection at halftime. Sacramento led down the stretch, but managed just one field goal in the final 2:55.

Mike Bibby had 17 points and eight assists, but he airballed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left and the Kings down 102-99.

Adelman was tossed for the first time this season -- just the fifth time in his career -- for protesting a noncall at the halftime buzzer. Referee Steve Javie tossed Adelman after the coach had stopped arguing.

"We kept telling each other, 'Don't worry about the refs,' but I think we got caught up in it once in a while," Bibby said.




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