Spurs 97, Knicks 87

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.