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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 08, 2012 9:48 pm

Spurs sink Jazz 114-104 to extend win streak to 11

By PAUL J. WEBERAssociated Press

Tony Parker scored 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs won their 11th straight game, beating the Utah Jazz 114-104 on Sunday night to maintain their slim lead atop the Western Conference.

Manu Ginobili added 23 points for the Spurs, who are now on their second 11-game win streak - a season best in the NBA. But unlike that first 11-game tear that started in January, the Spurs are now fighting off the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place instead of trying to catch them.

Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Utah dropped 1 1/2 games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot with nine games to go.

The Spurs (40-14), who face the Jazz again in Salt Lake City on Monday night, have played two more games than the Thunder (41-15). San Antonio overtook Oklahoma City in the standings for the first time all season Friday and owns the tiebreaker with 12 games remaining.

Expect to see the Spurs cashing in on their new stockpile of depth between now and then. Coach Gregg Popovich sat starting center DeJuan Blair for the first time this season, and newcomer Stephen Jackson didn't play, either. Resting them may portend a night off for one of the Big Three on Monday night.

Tim Duncan had 13 points and 16 rebounds, and Danny Green had 14 points. Ginobili was 14 of 15 from the foul line, saying he made the conscious decision to attack the basket, in part, because he's essentially trying to get used to absorbing physical contact after missing 30 games this year because of injury.

"I'm trying to start to be more aggressive going to the rim. I haven't been fouled much," Ginobili said.

Devin Harris had 18 points and reserve DeMare Carroll had 16 for the Jazz. Guard C.J. Miles left in the second quarter with a strained left calf and did not return.

Six of Utah's remaining games are against winning teams. The Jazz (29-28) are trying to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years and are poised to decide their own fate if they get there. Utah still has meetings left against Dallas, Phoenix and Houston, all of whom entered Sunday within 1 1/2 games of each other.

The Jazz trailed by as many as 19 but made a game of it in the fourth. Utah cut the lead to 108-100 with around 2 minutes left, but after Duncan pulled down his 15th rebound on a missed Gordon Hayward jumper, Parker scored the final six points to finish off the pesky Jazz.

Parker went 9 of 14 from the floor and hit all 10 of his foul shots.

Popovich has insisted that health will trump seeding down the stretch, but the Spurs keep winning in spite of him trying to limit the mileage on his stars before the playoffs. San Antonio is one of just four teams with at least 10 players averaging 19 minutes - New York's the only other winning one - and a rare Spurs midseason shopping spree has given them the luxury of even more depth.

Boris Diaw scored 9 points in his first start since signing with the Spurs on March 23. Along with Jackson and point guard Patty Mills, the Spurs are 11-1 since giving their bench a facelift around the trade deadline.

In all, the Spurs have won 28 of 33 since beginning their first 11-game winning streak Jan. 30.

Notes: Jazz G Earl Watson (right knee strain) did not return after playing 5 minutes in the first half. ... Blair was the only Spurs player to start every game this season prior to Sunday. ... The Spurs have beaten Utah in six consecutive meetings.