Spurs' winning streak grows to 11
Running down how the San Antonio Spurs won their 11th game in a row, Manu Ginobili threw in a mention of Richard Jefferson's 3-pointer in the fourth.
"Thank you, Manu," Jefferson piped up from the next locker over.
The timing was perfect. Just the way everything is going for the NBA's hottest team.
Tony Parker had 24 points and 10 assists, and the Spurs continued their best start in franchise history with a 106-97 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night, improving their NBA-best record to 12-1 while surviving their stiffest test yet.
"The first five, six games were not against great teams," said Ginobili, who scored 25 points. "But now we've beat Utah, Phoenix and now Orlando at home, which is always a tough matchup for us."
Beating Orlando was a validating win on this streak for the Spurs, none of whom were about to declare themselves the NBA's best team afterward.
Orlando (9-4), meanwhile, missed a chance for a reassuring victory of its own.
Dwight Howard had 26 points and 18 rebounds, and afterward, pinned the loss on a pair of costly giveaways in the waning minutes. Trailing 97-95 with under two minutes left, Jammer Nelson lost the ball out of bounds.
A minute later, down by four, Nelson turned the ball over again when he inadvertently kicked the ball off his foot while falling to the floor. Officials initially ruled that the Spurs last touched the ball, but after reviewing the video, gave possession to San Antonio.
"Turnovers," Howard said. "That's what killed us."
Nelson, who had 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting, took responsibility for the mistakes.
"I have to do a better job, especially with the ball in my hand," Nelson said. "I have to do a better job getting us shots. They made some 3s. When you don't get a shot up when I turn the ball over, it's tough."
Eleven games is the longest winning streak in nearly three years for the Spurs, who have taken a training-camp goal of a fast start far beyond what they had in mind.
The Spurs can thank their long-range shooting for keeping this streak going.
San Antonio made 12 of 19 from behind the 3-point line, including all five of its attempts in the fourth quarter. None were bigger than Ginobili's step-back 3-pointer with 2:09 remaining, putting the Spurs ahead for good with 2:09 remaining.
After many lead changes, the Spurs didn't let Orlando get ahead again.
"We wanted to give the fans their money's worth," said Spurs forward Matt Bonner, who made all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points.
Parker was 9 of 15 from the field and made both his 3-point attempts, including a crucial one with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter to put the Spurs briefly up by one.
"Matty's been on fire. Richard hit a big one. Manu had been great all season long," Parker sad. "We've been shooting the ball well. Ball movement has been good. Everyone's taking good shots."
Tim Duncan added 15 points and George Hill had 10 for the Spurs.
Rashard Lewis scored 14 points for the Magic and was 3 for 3 from behind the arc. J.J. Redick scored 11 points off the bench.
"I think these are statement games," Lewis said. "It went down to the wire, but we weren't able to pull it out. Sixteen turnovers against a good team won't get the job done."
Notes: Howard picked up his fifth technical foul of the season in the first quarter, protesting that officials should've tacked on a foul shot with a lay-in over Duncan. A player gets an automatic one-game suspension after 16 technical fouls. ...The Spurs are 19-4 at home against Orlando.