Ginobili leads Spurs over Knicks

By PAUL J. WEBER

Associated Press Writer

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Losing Tony Parker hurt, just like when Manu Ginobili went down around this time last season.

Parker picked up the slack then. Ginobili is doing the same so far.

Ginobili scored 28 points and the San
Antonio Spurs won for the fifth time in six games with a 97-87 victory
over the New York Knicks, who guaranteed themselves a franchise-record
ninth consecutive losing season.

They might have postponed the
clinching loss if it wasn’t for Ginobili. After carrying the Spurs with
38 points in a loss Monday at Cleveland, Ginobili shined again in his
second start since Parker broke his right hand, which likely ended his
regular season.

“It depends on how the opponents
guard you,” Ginobili said. “The last two games I had the opportunity to
score more, some others I’m going to pass. It’s about everybody doing a
little bit more.”

David Lee led New York with 21 points
and 10 rebounds. The Knicks (22-42) haven’t finished with a winning
record since 2001. They can take some comfort in this season likely not
being their worst, since New York needs just two wins to surpass its 23
victories in 2005-06 and 2007-08.

Starting a five-game road trip, those wins might not come easily.

The Knicks go to Memphis on Friday
before coming back to Texas to face Dallas. But they didn’t leave San
Antonio without a fight.

“Whether we win or not … everybody
wants to win, but the objective is, we’d better be competing,” Knicks
coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And that’s what we did tonight.”

The Knicks whittled a 15-point
deficit to four early in the fourth when Al Harrington took a pass deep
under the basket and went over Matt Bonner for an easy layup. After
Danilo Gallinari coasted by Duncan to make it 81-77, Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich sharply signaled a timeout and Duncan bounced the ball hard in
frustration.

Gallinari wasn’t done. He slipped
along the baseline for a layup two possessions later to make it 83-81,
then went to the foul line with a chance to tie – but made just one of
two.

That was as close as New York would
get. Coming back into the game between Gallinari’s free throws,
Ginobili calmly hit a running floater, then hit his second 3-pointer of
the night to all but seal the win.

“I just find myself watching him,” Spurs forward Keith Bogans said of Ginobili. “He’s fun to watch.”

Ginobili finished 10 of 18 and also
had six rebounds. Tim Duncan had 18 points, Antonio McDyess had 10
points and 12 rebounds, and all Spurs starters were in double figures.

The Spurs will try building more
momentum against Minnesota and the Los Angeles Clippers before entering
their toughest stretch of the season: a span of seven games that
includes Orlando, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, the Lakers, Cleveland and
Boston.

They’ll have to do it without
Parker, who isn’t expected to be back until the playoffs. The Spurs had
lost three straight with Parker out of the lineup, but climbed back to
6-6 this season without him.

Last year it was Ginobili who was
knocked out late in the season because of a bad right ankle, which also
kept him out of the playoffs. Parker’s injury isn’t believed to be that
severe.

Gallinari finished with 14 points
and Wilson Chandler had 17 for the Knicks. Eddy Curry didn’t make his
Knicks return, which D’Antoni hoped would come Wednesday.

Curry hasn’t played since having
left knee surgery on Jan. 18, and sat on the bench in uniform. He said
afterward he was bothered by a right calf pain and will take it game by
game.

NOTES: Richard Jefferson was
scoreless in 18 minutes off the bench, the first time he has not scored
in a game since Jan. 8 2006, when he played just two minutes in a New
Jersey win. …The Spurs signed G Cedric Jackson on Wednesday to a
10-day contract. Jackson played for the D-League’s Erie BayHawks and is
the first Spurs addition since waiving Michael Finley last week. …The
Knicks lost their seventh straight in San Antonio, having not won here
since 2003.

Updated March 11, 2010