Spurs reclaim sole leadership of Western Conference


Mon, Apr 08, 2013 - Page 20

An undermanned San Antonio Spurs team escaped with a 99-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday to reclaim sole ownership of the NBA Western Conference lead.

Tim Duncan had 31 points and 14 rebounds, while Kawhi Leonard added 23 points for the Spurs, who moved half a game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In other key games, Denver matched a team record with a 20th straight home win by downing Houston, Miami beat Philadelphia to close in on home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, and John Wall put in a big performance to lead Washington past Indiana.

The Spurs were without Tony Parker (neck) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring strain), and also lost Boris Diaw midway through the second quarter with back spasms.

Atlanta’s rookie guard John Jenkins had a career-best 23 points, but the Hawks lost a third straight.

Denver matched the 20-straight home win mark set by the 1984-1985 team by beating the Houston Rockets 132-114.

Corey Brewer led the Nuggets with 22 points. It was Denver’s highest score of the season, and the Nuggets are a league-best 35-3 at home.

Jeremy Lin scored 23 points for the Rockets, who lost their seventh straight to the Nuggets, including all four this season.

Miami’s LeBron James scored 27 points in his return from a strained right hamstring, leading the Heat to a 106-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Rashard Lewis scored 14 for the Heat, whose magic number — a combination of their wins and nearest rival’s losses — for clinching the league’s best regular-season record was trimmed to two.

Miami moved to 60-16, one win shy of matching the franchise single-season record.

Washington’s John Wall scored 37 points in a display of speed and flair to lead the Wizards to a 104-85 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Wall made 16 of 25 shots, had five assists, four rebounds and two blocks for the Wizards, who have won nine straight at home.

The Pacers missed another chance to clinch the Northwest Division.

Milwaukee clinched their first playoff berth for three seasons by beating the Toronto Raptors 100-83, with Monta Ellis having 22 points and nine assists.

Brooklyn strengthened their hold on fourth place in the Eastern Conference by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 105-96, as Deron Williams had 32 points and six assists.

Minneapolis’ Rick Adelman became the eighth coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games when the Timberwolves beat the Detroit Pistons 107-101.