Sat, Dec 25, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Spurs hold back Garnett for victory

AMERICAN BASKETBALL After trailing badly in the first half, San Antonio put the clamps on Minnesota center Kevin Garnett, who only scored once in the second half

AP , SAN ANTONIO, TEXASAP, NEW YORKREUTERS, PITTSBURGH ANDST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Forward Mark Madsen, right, of the Timberwolves, battles for a rebound against Robert Horry of the Spurs at the SBC Center in San Antonio, Texas on Thursday.

PHOTO: AFP

Manu Ginobili scored 22 points, and the San Antonio Spurs held Kevin Garnett to just one second-half basket in their 96-82 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

The Spurs, who trailed by double digits in the first half, made 11 of their 18 shots in the fourth quarter to break open a tie game. Minnesota, which shot 53 percent in the first half, made only three of 14 shots in the period.

Tim Duncan added 19 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio, and Tony Parker also scored 19 points.

Wally Szczerbiak had 22 for Minnesota, which dropped its fourth straight road game. Garnett scored 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting and had 10 rebounds, while Troy Hudson added 14 points. Michael Olowokandi had 12 rebounds.

Suns 109, Grizzlies 102

In Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire had 30 points, 11 rebounds and five steals -- and Shawn Marion scored 29 points -- to lead the Suns to their season-best 10th consecutive victory with a 109-102 win over the Grizzlies.

The Suns -- winners of nine in a row earlier this season -- improved to 23-3, the NBA's best start since Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls went 41-3 in 1995-1996.

Steve Nash had 17 points and 14 assists, and sealed the victory with four free throws in the last 23.1 seconds.

Mike Miller scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half for Memphis, and Jason Williams had 19 of his 21 in the second. Paul Gasol added 19 points for the Grizzlies.

Heat 109, Kings 107

In Sacramento, California, Damon Jones hit a 3-pointer with 23.4 seconds left, and Shaquille O'Neal blocked Mike Bibby's layup attempt in the closing seconds of Miami's 10th straight victory.

Jones' dramatic shot and O'Neal's defense capped an impressive late rally in Miami's final warmup before Shaq's much-hyped return to Los Angeles to face Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Saturday.

O'Neal, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds despite a bruised left calf, missed two free throws with 10.9 seconds left, but blocked Bibby's ensuing drive to the hoop with about 2 seconds to play.

Chris Webber's 3-pointer at the buzzer was well short, and Miami extended its longest winning streak since late in the 1997-1998 season. The Heat also became just the third Eastern Conference team to win in Sacramento in 53 games over the last four seasons.

Webber scored 26 points for the short-handed Kings.

Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal can play against Detroit on Christmas after a federal judge upheld an arbitrator's decision to reduce the National Basketball Association All-Star forward's suspension for fighting with fans amid a brawl that erupted during a Nov. 19 game between the Pacers and Detroit Pistons.

Judge George B. Daniels ruled from the bench Thursday after listening to arguments by lawyers for the NBA and the players' union and watching a brief videotape of O'Neal punching a fan during the brawl.

The union asked Daniels to temporarily uphold an arbitrator's decision Wednesday to reduce 10 games from a 25-game suspension imposed on O'Neal by NBA commissioner David Stern. Ron Artest's season-long suspension and the suspensions of two other Indiana players were upheld.

"We're delighted," union attorney Jeffrey Kessler said. He called the ruling "a great Christmas present for Jermaine O'Neal and all Pacers fans. It's the fair and right thing to do."

O'Neal, a three-time All-Star and eight-year NBA veteran, is now eligible to return Saturday when the Pacers host the Pistons in the teams' first matchup since one of the most violent melees in NBA history.

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