Magic smother Duncan, Spurs
Tim Duncan sat stiff and stared aimlessly on the bench watching his San Antonio Spurs get blown away in the final minutes.
His movement wasn't much better on the court. The Orlando Magic made sure of that.
Vince Carter had 24 points and eight assists, and the Magic smothered Duncan to beat San Antonio 110-84 on Wednesday night.
"I liked our defense on him. I thought we did a good job," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "At the same time, he can make a lot of the shots he was taking. What you try to do is just not make things easy and then you live with the result."
The result for the Magic couldn't have been better.
Duncan had five points and was 1 for 10 from the field in the worst shooting percentage game of his career, a big reason the Spurs lost for only the second time in their last 10 games. Duncan's previous low was a 1-for-8 night against Minnesota on April 20, 2005, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"Just a bad night," Duncan said. "Mainly myself. It kind of starts with me."
Rashard Lewis finished with 20 points, and J.J. Redick had 10 points to help the Magic win for the ninth time in 10 games. Orlando moved four games ahead of Atlanta and Boston for second in the Eastern Conference, but is still six games behind Cleveland.
"We want to win it. We're not one of those teams that are happy just making the playoffs," said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who played through a sinus infection. "We want to win it. We want to have a team that wants to win it. That's what we're building toward."
A matchup of two of the NBA's dominant big men fell flat.
Howard was hardly a part of the offense with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, with two makes coming late with the Magic up big. Duncan made the first basket of the game for the Spurs - a short hook - and then went silent.
"It's a very good feeling," said Magic backup center Marcin Gortat, who had a big hand in locking up Duncan. "He's a great player. If you stop a guy like that, you're confidence is going up, and you feel good about it. It's Tim Duncan. Everybody will have a bad game. He's still a great player. We just played better."
The difference was a deeper and more rested Orlando team.
The Magic held the Spurs scoreless for almost 6 minutes in the second quarter, shutting down San Antonio with almost entirely reserves. Not even Howard - the reigning Defensive Player of the Year - was needed.
Backups Gortat, Redick, Brandon Bass and Jason Williams teamed with Matt Barnes for most of the stretch to help Orlando score 14 straight points, part of a run that gave the Magic a 48-28 lead.
"We see the energy. The ball moves more, and the game looks really nice," Gortat said of the second string.
The only downside during the stretch was Michael Pietrus sprained his left ankle trying to make a pass. He got twisted up and fell to the ground, grimacing in pain. Van Gundy said Pietrus will miss Thursday's game at Miami but shouldn't miss any more time.
Richard Jefferson had 20 points, and Manu Ginobili added 18 for San Antonio, which fell to 4-2 since point guard Tony Parker broke his right hand.
The Spurs briefly came back behind a pair of 3-pointers by Matt Bonner and another by Ginobli, slicing the deficit to 10 points at the half.
Then Carter opened the third quarter with a trio of hard-driving layups. Carter also added an alley-oop pass to Howard - for a hard slam over Jefferson - to highlight a 13-4 Magic run that put them ahead by 22 points and all but sealed the win, pushing Duncan to the bench early.
"It's hard to play with Tim having an off night," Ginobili said. "I totally, blindly trust him. Just one of those game."
NOTES: Spurs C Greg Popovich said he had planned to sit Duncan in some of the second games of a back-to-back late in the season. But with his team beginning Wednesday seventh in the Western Conference, he's had to change plans. "Because of our situation, it just doesn't allow me to sit him as much," Popovich said. ... Barnes returned after missing Sunday's game with a sprained left big toe.