Spurs 95, Kings 86

Even on a night when Manu Ginobili struggled through the first
three quarters, the San Antonio Spurs looked to their feisty
veteran to get going in the fourth.

And just as he’s done consistently since the All-Star break,
Ginobili delivered.

Richard Jefferson had 18 points and Ginobili scored 11 of his 16
in the fourth quarter for the surging Spurs, who beat the
Sacramento Kings 95-86 on Tuesday for their fourth straight
victory.

After entering the final period with five points, Ginobili made
four of seven shots in the fourth, including all three 3-point
attempts to help the Spurs escape Sacramento with a victory and
continue their late-season roll.

“I’m feeling really confident right now,” said Ginobili, who
has averaged more than 25 points over the past 16 games. “I
couldn’t make shots for three quarters, but I know the team trusts
me. They ran some plays for me and I took some big shots and they
went in.”

Ginobili’s 3-pointer with 5:15 remaining broke a 79-all tie and
began a stretch of 12 unanswered points by the Spurs. Another 3 by
Ginobili several minutes later put San Antonio ahead 89-79.

“It was the fourth quarter again (for us),” Kings forward
Dante Greene said. “Ginobili got hot and we always need to know
where he is at. We did a pretty good job on him until the fourth
quarter.”

The victory moved San Antonio into a sixth-place tie with
Oklahoma City in the Western Conference playoff race. San Antonio
has won 16 of 21 and has five games remaining, including trips to
Phoenix, Denver and Dallas.

The Spurs got some typical clutch production from Ginobili and
also were pleased to see the return of point guard Tony Parker, who
had missed 16 games with an injured hand.

Playing sparingly in a reserve role, Parker had eight points and
two assists in 16 minutes.

“Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) told me about 15 minutes and I got
16,” said Parker, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter. “I
didn’t feel tired, I was just kind of out of rhythm. I was just
happy to be out there, I didn’t care what I did.”

Making his first NBA start, Garrett Temple had 15 points for the
Spurs. Temple made five of eight shots, converted all four free
throws and added three rebounds and four assists. He had been with
the Kings on a 10-day contract earlier in the season when he played
five games and was released.

“Garrett was fantastic tonight,” Popovich said. “It’s really
impressive to see a young guy go out there and be that aggressive
and not worry about making mistakes. I thought he was really
important to our win tonight.”

DeJuan Blair scored 13 points, Antonio McDyess had 12 points and
11 rebounds, and Tim Duncan added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the
Spurs.

Tyreke Evans had 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists for
the Kings, who have lost eight straight and 10 of 11. Carl Landry
scored 20 points and Dante Greene had 12.

“We thought we had them, but they made some tough shots in the
fourth quarter to ice the game,” Evans said. “That is what hurt
us.”

The Spurs have showed they can beat the NBA’s best. In a recent
10-day stretch, they defeated division leaders Cleveland, the Los
Angeles Lakers, Boston and Orlando.

Parker, a crucial ingredient to the Spurs’ four NBA
championships, had been replaced at point guard by George Hill the
past month. With Hill directing the offense, the Spurs compiled an
11-5 record and he averaged 16.1 points a game.

Parker’s return nearly coincided with Hill’s sprained right
ankle in Sunday’s win over the Lakers. Hill didn’t play against the
Kings and is expected to miss Wednesday’s game at Phoenix, too.

Following a two-point first half, Duncan scored eight in the
third to help the Spurs take a 71-67 lead into the fourth
quarter.

NOTES: Kings starting center Spencer Hawes has a bruised left
knee and will miss the rest of the season. … Parker has sat out
26 games this season, while Hill missed his first game to injury
during his two-year career. … Duncan picked up a third-quarter
technical foul, then shared a quick laugh with Beno Udrih, his
former teammate, who made the subsequent technical and two other
free throws in succession.