Duncan, Spurs Spank Sixers


Tim Duncan appeared to pick up where he left off in the NBA Finals last season.

And veteran guard Terry Porter wasted no time helping his new team as San Antonio defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 89-76 Tuesday night to open defense of their NBA championship.

Duncan had 20 points and 16 rebounds in 28 minutes. But, he said, the Spurs were rusty.

"We had problems getting in a flow, partly because of their defense and partly because our offense was shaky," Duncan said.

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  • Porter, a free agent signed in the offseason, came off the bench for 15 points, including three 3-pointers.

    "I was just happy I could come in and contribute," said Porter, who helped relieve starting point guard Avery Johnson when he was in foul trouble. "I had to come in and maintain the rhythm of the team."

    Porter helped David Robinson ignite a 17-0 fourth-quarter rally that broke open a close game and put San Antonio comfortably ahead.

    "Terry Porter is a heck of a professional besides being a great basketball player," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "What you saw tonight is exactly why we wanted him in the fold."

    "Terry Porter hit big, big shots for us," Robinson added. "Terry has already proven to be a great addition."

    As the Spurs played in the Alamodome, Bexar County residents approved a referendum for taxpayer funding of a new $175 million arena for the Spurs and the rodeo.

    Spurs executives and players cheered the early vote totals after the game.

    "I think it's going to be a good deal in the long run," Robinson said.

    Had the arena been voted down, it could have played a role in Duncan leaving the Spurs after this season if the team relocated to another city.

    "It's real exciting to see the way it's going," Duncan said after the early votes were counted. "Now we need to put it behind us."

    San Antonio led 60-58 two minutes into the fourth quarter, before a jumper by Robinson and Porter's 3-pointer sparked the key rally. Porter scored eight points during the spurt, which made it 77-58 with 6:28 left to play.

    Allen Iverson, last season's scoring champion, provided most of the 76ers' offense, finishing with 28 points. George Lynch had 10 rebounds.

    "We played them tough for three quarters and we have no excuses," Iverson said. "We weren't doing the things we do in practice too much one on one. We had a bad night offensively."

    Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said his team self-destructed in the fourth quarter.

    "Their offense was phenomenal, and our offense wasn't very good in the fourth quarter," Brown said. "They did the things you expect out of a championship team."

    Duncan showed more of the skills he displayed when he was voted MVP of the NBA Finals in June, when the Spurs defeated the New York Knicks in five games.

    NBA commissioner David Stern presented Spurs players and coaches with their championship rings before Tuesday's game. The championship banner also was unfurled, the first title in the 26-year history of the San Antonio franchise.

    Missing from the Spurs' lineup was Sean Elliott, the 31-year-old forward who underwent a kidney transplant in August. Elliott is working as a team television commentator during his recuperation and plans to attempt to return to playing, possibly later this season.

    Newly acquired Chucky Brown started at small forward in place of Elliott, but played only 19 minutes and scored 2 points. The Spurs also filled the position with a committee of other players including Mario Elie, Malik Rose and Jaren Jackson.

    Philadelphia got off to a quick start as Iverson scored 11 of its first 18 points. He had 17 points in the first half.

    The 76ers led 38-37 at halftime after a basket by Lynch just before the buzzer. Philadelphia held a 44-37 advantage two minutes into the third quarter, but Duncan scored 11 points in the period and the Spurs moved ahead and led 57-54 by the start of the fourth.

    Notes

  • The 76ers were without front-line players Theo Ratliff (stress fracture, left ankle) and Matt Geiger (arthroscopic surgery, left knee).
  • David Robinson had 10 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes for the Spurs. In exhibition the preseason, he had a sore upper back after getting elbowed in an exhibition game and tightness in his lower back, a problem that flares up from time to time.
  • A total of 27,288 attended the game. Some upper-deck seats were sold for as little as $5.
  • Philadelphia and San Antonio hadn't faced each other in a season opener in 23 years.

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