After missing most of the fourth quarter in a heartbreaking loss to the Sacramento Kings, and sitting out one game in another defeat against the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan wouldn’t let the Spurs suffer a third straight setback.
Duncan scored a season-high 28 points including a 13-foot running hook inside the lane to lead San Antonio to a 104-102 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night and improve their record to 11-7.
Duncan two clutch free throws with 1:16 to left to give the Spurs a 102-98 lead, but Jarrett Jack hit a reverse layup in a crowd to make it a one possession game, and then the Hornets got a pair of critical defensive stops to set up Carl Landry’s tip-in on of Jack’s missed floater, tying the game at 102 with 5.2 seconds left.
The Spurs immediately took timeout and then fed the ball to Duncan, who seemed to have no intention of giving it up as he went strong to the lane for his clutch running hook over Emeka Okafor that proved to be the final margin.
The Hornets inbounded the ball to Landry for a 3-pointer that could have won it as time expired, but the shot fell short.
New Orleans led most of the third quarter and was up 80-74 late in the period after Jack’s jumper, but Richard Jefferson hit with one of his four 3-pointers and Tony Parker converted a difficult driving scoop to cut it the Spurs deficit to 80-79 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hornets, who had turned the ball over only eight times through the first three quarters, committed six miscues in the fourth, which hurt them in a game that went down to the wire.
Both teams shot well, Spurs shot 55 percent (41-of-75) and the Hornets, connected 50.6 percent (42-of-83) from the field.
Parker added 20 points and a career-high 17 assists for the Spurs, who snapped a two-game skid, Richard Jefferson added 14 points, while Tiago Splitter added 12 points and six boards.
Gary Neal chipped in 10 points for the Spurs, making both of his 3-point attempts.
Jarrett Jack led the Hornets with 26 points and nine assists and Trevor Ariza and Landry added 18 points a piece.
Marco Belinelli had 12 points for New Orleans and Okafor added 10.