Duncan steps up as Spurs even series with Hornets


Just like that, the San Antonio Spurs have tied the Western Conference semifinals.

Tim Duncan had 22 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in the Spurs' 100-80 win Sunday night to even the best-of-seven series with the New Orleans Hornets at 2-2.

"Made some shots tonight," Duncan said. "It's all about moving the ball against these guys. We know where they're coming from. We understand the double teams. We need to find the shooters and knock down the shots."

That they did, hitting 51 percent from the field (39-of-76) to New Orleans' 40 percent (33-of-82).

The Spurs have stormed back from an 0-2 deficit with two double-digit victories, answering the Hornets' routs in Games — and 2.

Tony Parker scored 21 points and Manu Ginobili, who again started, added 15 points for the Spurs, who are assured of a Game 6 back in San Antonio. Game 5 is Tuesday in New Orleans.

"They're loading up on us," said West, who had three blocks but was held to 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting. "We have to make sure we're doing things to stretch them. Like I said, I don't think they're having to guard us too much right now. We're giving them opportunities on the defensive end to rest.

"That's why guys like Parker and Ginobili have such energy on the offensive end. And then when Tim Duncan gets going, like he did tonight, we just don't have a shot."

Chris Paul led the Hornets with 23 points and reserve Jannero Pargo added 11. Peja Stojakovic, who struggled in Game 3, scored just six points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Parker and Ginobili each had eight of the Spurs' 27 assists. The Hornets had 12 assists &

five from Paul.

The Spurs led by 27 at one point and were ahead nearly the entire game. They outrebounded the Hornets 45-36.

"I thought we went back to some of our bad habits from early in the season, where we missed some easy shots in the first six or seven minutes of the game," Hornets coach ron Scott said. "And we let that dictate how hard we were going to play on the defensive end."

The Hornets were hoping to return to New Orleans with a 3-1 series lead, but allowed Duncan and Parker to shoot a combined 18-of-25 from the field.

The Spurs were ahead for all but 3:24 in the first quarter, taking the lead for good after Parker's layup with 8:36 to play broke a 4-all tie.

"Defense is the best way for us to play because we're not a great offensive team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "But if we're playing good defense, it fuels everything we do."

San Antonio shot 57.5 percent in the first half, led by Parker and Duncan, who each hit 7 of 10 from the field. Parker had no problem getting to the rim early to lead the Spurs with 18 points at the break.

Parker had two layups as part of a 13-2 Spurs run, and his jumper capped the burst with 5:27 left in the second quarter to put the Spurs up 45-28.

Duncan started the series with a miserable five points and three rebounds in Game 1.

"Timmy is just very patient this series," Parker said. "He's trusting his teammates and if they keep double teaming, we just have to knock down shots."

The Hornets were down 55-42 at the break. West was struggling as he was harassed by the Spurs but also missed a couple of open shots, including an airball to start the second quarter.

In the third quarter, when the Hornets were so dominant in the first two games, the Spurs kept up their hot shooting and New Orleans got worse.

Tyson Chandler got his fourth and fifth fouls in quick succession and had to go to the bench. He finished with two points and four rebounds.

Jazz 123, Lakers 115

At Salt Lake City, Utah, Andrei Kirilenko blocked Kobe Bryant twice in overtime and converted a three-point play with 35 seconds remaining as the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, tying the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2.

The Jazz went 9-for-9 from the foul line in overtime and outscored the Lakers 15-7 in the extra 5 minutes.

Deron Williams had 29 points and 14 assists, while Carlos Boozer scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and grabbed 12 rebounds. Mehmet Okur added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Kirilenko finished with 15 points and five blocks &

stuffing Bryant twice as the Lakers tried to rally in overtime.

Bryant finished with 33 points and 10 assists. Lamar Odom had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Pau Gasol scored 23 and pulled down 10 boards.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Los Angeles.

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