It looked like the San Antonio Spurs winning streak was about to end when Gary Neal fumbled a pass from Tony Parker with 9.5 seconds left in regulation.
But Neal redeemed himself and stole the ball 3.8 seconds later against Los Angeles Clippers star guard Chris Paul and hit the tying 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds left that sent the game into overtime.
In the overtime, another 3-pointer by Neal, left wide open after a pass from Tim Duncan, gave the Spurs a 101-98 lead with 25.4 seconds left.
“We had a lot of guys play their hearts out,” Popovich said. “We’ve been on the road for a while, and I’m real proud of what they did just hanging in there. We started out real poorly, and they just kept their heads about themselves, played for each other, helped each other, and we were fortunate enough to get it done.”
Duncan, who had 11 points and 17 rebounds in 41 minutes, welcomed the only good luck the Spurs had on an otherwise troublesome day.
“It happened, and sometimes you’ve got to get lucky in this league,” Duncan said. “We definitely got lucky on that one. They say luck favors the prepared, and we’re prepared in many different respects. It’s good to have one bounce our way.”
The Spurs extended their NBA-best winning streak to 10 games on Saturday night, tightening their grip on the West’s second best record (22-9) and improving their road record to 9-8, and but it didn’t come without a cost.
San Antonio lost guard Manu Ginobili and big man Tiago Splitter to injuries.
“I think we just lost (Ginobili) again, and (Splitter),” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said following the game, which the Spurs won 103-100. “I think it’s going to be a while.”
Ginobili left at the end of the third quarter with a strained left oblique. Splitter came out of the game in the first quarter with a right calf sprain. Both will be examined in Los Angeles on Saturday, according to a team official.
“It sort of looks like we won the battle, but it makes it tough to win the war,” Popovich said.
Saturday was Ginobili’s fourth game back since being sidelined for 22 games after he broke his left hand in a game against Minnesota on January 2. Ginobili was wincing in pain after Clippers forward Kenyon Martin set a hard screen on him away from the ball. Ginobili came out of the game moments later.
Entering Saturday’s game, Ginobili, a two-time All-Star, had played only eight games for the Spurs, averaging 13.4 points on 56.3 percent shooting from the field.
Splitter has served as a key reserve in the frontcourt for San Antonio in his second season with the Spurs. Prior to Saturday’s game, he’d tallied 9.7 points per game while shooting 62.3 percent from the field to go along with 5.4 rebounds in 21.3 minutes.
Parker led the Spurs with 30 points and 10 assists, DeJuan Blair chipped in 10 points, Neal added 17 points, three rebounds and three steals, while Matt Bonner scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench.
Blake Griffin had a monster game for the Clippers finishing with 22 points and 20 rebounds, Paul and Randy Foye scored 21 points each and Caron Butler had 11.
The Spurs will try to win their seventh straight road win without Ginobili and Splitter when they visit the Utah Jazz on Monday night.