Parker sparks Spurs' win
The Suns top the Trail Blazers, handing Portland its fifth loss in a row.
Published: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 3:11 a.m.
BOSTON - The NBA champion San Antonio Spurs rediscovered a familiar formula and ended their three-game losing streak.
With a strong defensive effort backed by Rasho Nesterovic's season-high 23 points and 13 rebounds, the Spurs beat the Boston Celtics 109-92 Sunday.
"We combined 48 minutes of good defense with making some shots," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "That certainly makes things easy for us."
Tony Parker scored 20 points - all by halftime - and Tim Duncan added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Spurs.
"Call in the search party, because we've found him tonight," Popovich said, referring to Parker. "Without him, we've got problems. He's very important to us. It was nice to see him be aggressive and make some shots."
Celtics coach Jim O'Brien wasn't nearly as pleased, of course, after his team's fourth loss in a row.
Boston was outrebounded 50-34 and outscored in the paint 54-34.
"Over the last two games, we too easily allowed the ball to get to the rim, and I guess I would say that I will play only the people from here on that will make it a point not to let the basketball get to the rim," O'Brien said. "If I have to overplay people minutes to get the toughness that we need in that phase of the game, then that's what I'll do."
Paul Pierce scored 19, Mark Blount added 15, and reserve Ricky Davis had 14 for Boston.
"It's really tough when you go out on the court and all five guys aren't on the same page all the time," Pierce said. "We're trying to find our way together as a team that just came together this year."
San Antonio has beaten Boston 12 times in a row and is 18-1 against the Celtics since the 1993-94 season.
Joe Johnson scored 25 points, including the go-ahead rebound basket with 18.1 seconds to play, and the Phoenix Suns handed the Portland Trail Blazers their fifth loss in a row.
Johnson, averaging 20 points per game since Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway were traded to New York, has scored 20, 26 and 25 points in his last three games as the Suns matched their season-long winning streak at three.
The Blazers have lost nine of 10, including two to Phoenix in a five-day span.
Shawn Marion had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Leandro Barbosa scored 20 for the Suns, who overcame 21 turnovers that resulted in 28 Portland points.
Zach Randolph scored 25 for the Blazers, on their longest losing streak in two seasons. Rasheed Wallace scored 19, but only six in the second half and none in the fourth quarter.
Portland led 92-90 after Randolph's three-point play with 2:26 to go, but missed its last eight shots, four of them by Wallace.
Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points on 12-for-17 shooting to lead the Denver Nuggets past the road-weary Miami Heat.
Rodney White scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, helping the Nuggets thwart a Miami comeback that reduced a 14-point deficit to six.
Voshon Lenard added 18 points and Nene 17 for the Nuggets, who avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Lamar Odom had 26 points for Miami, and Eddie Jones and Caron Butler each had 12.
Odom's three-point play early in the fourth quarter cut Denver's lead to 68-62, but White then scored eight points during Denver's 14-6 run that pushed the lead to 82-68.
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