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Duncan, Spurs Leave Jazz Blue

Tim Duncan was stunned to learn he beat out Kevin Garnett for a starting spot on the Western Conference All-Star team.

After the week he's had, he should have seen it coming.

Duncan had 33 points and 10 rebounds and Derek Anderson added 22 points as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Utah Jazz 99-86 Saturday.

Duncan was coming off a 36-point, 21-rebound performance in San Antonio's 97-91 victory at Sacramento on Thursday. He kept it going against the Jazz by scoring 13 points in the first quarter.

"I felt good coming out of the gate," Duncan said. "I'm not really an early-part-of-the-game guy, but it felt good today. Things went down for me early and we just kept rolling along."

Duncan, the co-MVP of last year's All-Star game, beat out Garnett out by about 93,000 votes for the second forward spot in this year's game.

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  • "Wow. Garnett?", he said with a pause. "It's absolutely surprising. I didn't expect it at all. I had an up and down start to the season. It's all about the fans. I want to say thanks to the fans."

    It was a matchup of the teams sitting atop the Midwest Division, but the Spurs showed they're simply the better squad, winning their third straight over the Jazz this season.

    "They beat us in our building and they took the 3-0 lead," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They have the tiebreaker now, if it comes down to that. There's a good chance we won't be there for the tiebreaker if we play like that."

    Terry Porter scored a season-high 17, and David Robinson and Steve Kerr each scored 10 for the Spurs, who have won five of their last six against Utah.

    Karl Malone led the Jazz with 19 points, with nine in the fourth quarter when Utah trailed by double digits. Donyell Marshall scored 18, Bryon Russell had 14 and Danny Manning 10 but Utah shot 38 percent.

    Duncan had 20 points in the first half. When the Jazz tried to shut him down with double teams after the break, San Antonio did a great job of rotating the ball to find an open shooter.

    "As simplistic as it sounds, winning tonight had a lot to do with hitting open shots," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

    The Spurs led 75-62 going into the fourth quarter and quickly stretched the lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Kerr and Anderson, forcing a Utah timeout less than two minutes into the period.

    But it really was over in the first half after San Antonio raced to an 18-6 lead through the first seven minutes, putting the Jazz on their heels almost from the opening tip.

    "We stunk. That's about it," Utah center Olden Polynice said.

    Malone shot 0-for-7 from the floor in the first half, scoring all eight of his points on free throws. John Stockton, playing in his 13,000th game, was 1-for-4 on field goals as the Jazz shot 30 percent and trailed 54-42 at the break.

    "I didn't play well and maybe as a team we didn't play well," Malone said. "It's the same old story. When I don't play well, we don't get opportunities."

    The Spurs have handled the Jazz easily this season, winning 86-79 after leading by as much as 19 points during a November victory in San Antonio. Last month, the Spurs won 91-83 at the Delta Center.

    In those two losses, Utah shot 38 percent from the floor and 63 percent at the line.

    "If it looks easy, it's not," Duncan said. "They're a hard-banging team, a disciplined team that runs their offense over and over again, like they're beating on a nail over and over again."

    San Antonio won even after losing Antonio Daniels to a sprained left knee and Samaki Walker to a sprained right ankle in the victory over Sacramento. Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson also are on the injured list.

    "The injuries have hurt us, but guys who got the opportunity have stepped up and done a great job," Porter said. "In the end, this is just going to make us better."

    It doesn't add up well for the Jazz if they hope to successfully defend last season's Midwest Division championship. Utah couldn't slow Duncan, who scored on Malone, Polynice and anyone else who tried to defend him.

    "This is the best two games Tim's had back-to-back, and they have come against strong opponents," Porter said. "Chris Webber and Karl Malone are pretty good power forwards in their own right."


  • NBC analyst Peter Vecsey, labeled "a player-hater" by Malone, was booed when the network television feed went on the Delta Center's jumbo screens before tipoff.
  • Talk about taking one for the team Popovich was hit in the groin by an errant basketball in the first half.
  • The Jazz went 6-2 during their eight-game homestand, the longest in franchise history.

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