Spurs drop C’s

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BOSTON (AP) – Tim Duncan remained unbeaten against the Boston Celtics, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 93-89 victory Monday night.

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker each scored 15 points and Michael Finley had 12 for the Spurs, who have won 18 straight against the Celtics and nine in a row in Boston. The Celtics last beat the Spurs on Jan. 8, 1997, the season before Duncan entered the NBA.

Duncan shot 7-of-17 from the field and 7-of-7 from the free throw line as the Spurs won their third straight and eighth in 10 games. His 10 second-quarter points helped San Antonio outscore Boston 30-14 after falling behind 24-20 through one.

Delonte West led Boston with 27 points, while Al Jefferson added 26 and Ryan Gomes had 20. The Celtics have lost eight straight and are 2-14 without star guard Paul Pierce, who has been out since Dec. 22 with a stress reaction in his left foot.

The Spurs led by as many as 23 in the third quarter and 77-63 after the period. But after the teams traded baskets for much of the fourth quarter, Boston used a late 13-0 run to make it close.

West’s jumper from just inside the 3-point line pulled Boston to 91-89 with 8.7 seconds left, but Finley made two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to ice it.

A day after holding on for a 99-85 victory in Philadelphia, San Antonio got off to a sluggish start. The Spurs allowed early Boston runs of 7-0 and 6-0 and trailed 20-12 late in the first quarter.

But after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took out San Antonio’s entire starting lineup, the Spurs went on a 15-4 run spanning the first and second quarters to go up for good. Brent Barry and Francisco Elson combined for 13 points during that span.

A pair of free throws by Elson gave the Spurs a 25-24 lead with 9:49 left in the second, and Finley added a fast-break layup the next time down the floor to cap the stretch.

Gerald Green’s jumper pulled Boston back within 27-26, but the Spurs responded with another 11-2 spurt. Duncan scored six during the stretch, and Parker’s two free throws put the Spurs up 38-28 with 5:43 left in the half.

San Antonio extended its lead to 50-38 by halftime.

Notes: Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game that both Wally Szczerbiak and Brian Scalabrine could return for Wednesday’s game against Atlanta. Szczerbiak has missed six games with a right ankle sprain, while Scalabrine has missed five with a bruised right knee. … Jefferson scored nine and West had seven in the first quarter. … Duncan had blocked four shots in four straight games. … During its 18-game winning streak against Boston, 11 of San Antonio’s wins have been by at least 10 points.

AP-ES-01-22-07 2209EST

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