- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Tony Parker had 31 points and 10 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Indiana Pacers 126-121 on Friday night to make up ground in the Western Conference playoff race.

Tim Duncan had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Michael Finley scored 18 points and Drew Gooden added 17 for the Spurs, who now trail Denver by half a game in the scramble for the No. 2 seed in the West.

Danny Granger scored 35 points for the Pacers, his fourth straight game with at least 30 points. Jarrett Jack scored 22 points, and Troy Murphy added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who fell four games behind Chicago for the No. 8 spot in the East.

The Pacers overcame a 15-point deficit in the second half to lead several times in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs rallied to snap a two-game losing streak. The Spurs were coming off an embarrassing home loss to Oklahoma City.

San Antonio led by 12 at the end of the third quarter, and the Spurs appeared to be cruising until the Pacers started connecting from long range. Granger and Jack made back-to-back threes to cut San Antonio’s lead to 104-101 with just over six minutes left. Murphy made a 3-pointer, then Granger gave the Pacers their first lead of the second half on a layup with 5:29 to play.

Parker answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing, then a long 2-pointer to put the Spurs up 120-117 with a minute to play.

Jack missed a 27-foot jumper and Ginobili rebounded. On the other end, Ginobili missed a 3-pointer as the shot clock wound down, but Duncan’s soft one-handed tip went in to give the Spurs a 122-117 lead with 31 seconds left.

Finley made two free throws for the Spurs, then Indiana’s T.J. Ford was fouled on a made layup with 13 seconds to play. He missed the free throw, but Duncan secured the rebound. Ginobili made both free throws with 9 seconds left to put the game out of reach.

San Antonio shot 56 percent from the field in the first half to take a 63-55 lead at the break. The Spurs seemed to welcome the Pacers’ frantic pace, and fell three points short of their season high for points in a half. Parker had 18 points before the break.

San Antonio pushed its lead to 12 early in the third quarter, and led 93-81 at the end of the period. The Spurs shot 60 percent in the third quarter, but they had to shoot well because the Pacers shot 50 percent in the period.

[email protected]: Indiana rookies Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert combined for 14 of the team’s 30 points in the first quarter. … Indiana G Marquis Daniels sat out with a sprained right wrist. … San Antonio G George Hill, an Indianapolis native, entered the game with 4:08 left in the third quarter. He scored his only basket on a putback with eight minutes to play.

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