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Spurs join in Clippers bashing

THE streaking San Antonio Spurs posted their 15th win in 18 games on Thursday with a 106-84 victory over the under-strength Los Angeles Clippers.

Tony Parker scored 19 points and Roger Mason added 18 as the Spurs used a second-half surge to pull away and record their fourth straight win.

Rookie Eric Gordon and second-year forward Al Thornton led the way with 21 points apiece for the Clippers, who dropped their ninth straight game.

Los Angeles (8-27) was without Baron Davis, Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman through injury, while guard Ricky Davis is serving a five-game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy.

Despite those major absences, the Clippers managed to take a 44-43 lead into halftime before fading.

"Any time you play a team that, on paper, is less than you, and they have three or four injured players, it's hard," said San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili, who had 13 points and five assists.

"Maybe you are not as motivated. It usually becomes a tougher game than expected."

Michael Finley scored 11 of his 15 points during the third quarter where San Antonio jumped out with a 10-0 run on route to improving their season record to 24-11.

San Antonio connected on 11 three-pointers and recorded 29 assists as it improved to 12-0 at home against the Clippers since moving into the AT&T Center in 2002.

The Spurs began the season slowly, winning just two of their first seven games, while All-Star guards Parker and Ginobili missed time with ankle injuries.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich credited center Tim Duncan's stabilizing influence for helping the team take first place in the Western Conference Southwest Division.

"He's done with this group exactly what he's done with every other group we've had," said Popovich. "He's like a chameleon. It's incredible the empathy and leadership he shows to make those guys feel comfortable."

In Dallas, Josh Howard scored 19 points, Jason Kidd added 16 and Dallas overcame a subpar game from Dirk Nowitzki to beat New York 99-94. The Mavericks have beaten the Knicks nine straight times in Dallas dating to December 1999.

Nowitzki, the NBA's fourth-leading scorer, was 3-of-13 from the floor and scored 10 points, just two more than his season low.

Knicks center Eddy Curry, who missed the first 33 games with a knee injury, played for the first time this season. He made his only shot attempt in 2? minutes of action and grabbed two rebounds.

Chris Duhon hit his first nine shots and scored 24 points, and Wilson Chandler added 20 for the Knicks.


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