NBA

O'Neal's double-double helps Suns top Spurs in overtime

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Associated Press
2/27/2013 11:56:57 PM
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SAN ANTONIO -- After a 25-day, nine-game road trip, the San Antonio Spurs were glad to be back in their own building, relaxed and ready to add to their 18-game home winning streak.

Maybe too relaxed.

Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points and 13 rebounds, Wesley Johnson hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force overtime and the Phoenix Suns rallied to upend San Antonio 105-101, stunning a raucous crowd that had begun celebrating midway through the third quarter only to exit in silence.

Tony Parker had 22 points to lead San Antonio, which had not lost at home since Nov. 19 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tim Duncan had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and DeJuan Blair and Kawhi Leonard added 15 points apiece.

Luis Scola added 15 points and Goran Dragic had 13 points and 13 assists for Phoenix, which snapped a six-game losing streak against the Spurs.

"We are all very upset, especially after the performance we had on the road," San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said. "Coming back home and losing the first one is hard, but it happens. We got relaxed after such a long road trip, but this is what happens in the NBA when you do not play your best."

After going 7-2 on the road trip due to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, the league-leading Spurs (45-14) appeared to have the game well in hand following a strong third quarter by Parker.

Amid cries of "MVP," Parker had 10 points in the period as San Antonio extended its lead to double digits. His assist to Duncan with 10 minutes left in the third gave the Spurs a 56-45 lead and his 10-foot jumper put them up 69-58.

Leonard's 3 with 1.1 seconds gave San Antonio a 77-67 lead entering the fourth.

Trailing by 11 points with 11:29 left in the game, the Suns rallied behind O'Neal. The veteran centre had 13 points and five rebounds as Phoenix (20-39) outscored San Antonio 33-23 in the fourth.

"For us, we're obviously not in the playoff run, but it's about trying to be a better team," O'Neal said. "Games like these are what build character and put us in the right direction. That's what we're trying to do."

The Suns pulled within 97-95 with less than a minute remaining on Marcus Morris' 3. Parker attempted to keep the Spurs ahead, tossing in a floater, a jump shot and feeding Duncan for a jumper that gave San Antonio a 99-97 lead with 11 seconds left.

Ginobili made one of two free throws with 3.7 seconds left to make it 100-97. O'Neal rebounded Ginobili's second free throw attempt, firing a pass down court to Johnson, whose 3 at the buzzer tied the game at 100 and sent it to overtime.

"Overall we made a lot of mental errors," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Especially on that last play on the free throw line when Johnson went all the way down the court and he wasn't picked up. That cost us the game."

Johnson's 3 seemed to stun the Spurs even more so than the fans.

"I think we were kind of surprised that Manu missed that last free throw, but they made a great play," Parker said. "Wesley made a big 3."

San Antonio went 0 for 10 in overtime, its only points in the extra period coming when Parker made 1 of 2 free throws.

"I think they missed some shots they normally make, so defensively we did some things great that worked great for us," Phoenix coach Lindsey Hunter said.

The teams combined to go 0 for 14 to open overtime. Marcin Gortat's tip follow was the first basket of overtime, giving Phoenix a 102-101 lead with 1:07 left.

NOTES: After three weeks on the road, the Spurs were finally able to honour Parker as the NBA Player of the Month for January, doing so prior to the game. ... San Antonio observed a moment of silence in honour of Dr. Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner who died Feb. 18. ... The Spurs have won 64 games overall on its rodeo road trips, which began in 2003. ... A video highlighting the Spurs' recent road trip played prior to the game to Phillip Phillips' "Home." ... Dragic and reigning MVP LeBron James of Miami are the only players leading their team in points, assists, steals and free throw attempts. ... Scola, Gortat and Markieff Morris have played all 58 games for Phoenix, with Gortat starting each.

Jermaine O'Neal (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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