SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Tony Parker took over down the stretch and took the San Antonio Spurs back into the postseason.
Parker scored 23 points and the Spurs bounced back from a humbling loss by beating the Detroit Pistons 111-104 on Wednesday night to clinch a playoff berth.
The Pistons cut the lead to five points with 2:27 to play when Tracy McGrady found a cutting Greg Monroe for the layup, but Manu Ginobili found Parker on the right wing for a wide-open 3-pointer. Parker then made a layup to put the Spurs up 10 with 1:08 left.
``Well, I thought he did a great job throughout the game, being aggressive, distributing the ball, and when we really needed some offense, he was scoring when (the Pistons) made a run at the end,' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ``He was fantastic; taking it to them and scoring.'
Tim Duncan, who matched a career low with two points in a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes.
The Spurs clinched their 14th consecutive playoff appearance, dating back to the 1997-98 season, the longest active streak in the NBA.
``We knew today that we had to move the ball better, get everybody involved, and I think we did a very good job, especially in the beginning,' Ginobili said.
Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 20 points off the bench, while Tayshaun Prince added 16.
The Spurs hit their first 14 shots and finished with a season-high 40 points in the first quarter to take a 14-point lead. San Antonio scored just 37 points in the first half in Sunday's loss.
``They're playing with a lot of confidence. They're coming off a game where they didn't perform well at all,' Detroit coach John Kuester said. ``I know Pop was going to have them geared up to play at a high level. And they did. After we got hit in the face in the first quarter, we responded.'
McGrady was the starting point guard, moving Rodney Stuckey to the bench. McGrady finished with 15 points and nine assists.
``We're looking to mix and match all the time,' Kuester said. ``We're always searching to see who's going to give us the most in certain spots and situations. I thought Tracy was outstanding. His leadership and the way he controlled the game was outstanding.'
The Spurs led by as much as 19 points in the first quarter, but their lead was cut to six in the third as the Pistons used their length to crash the offensive boards. Detroit held a 31-9 edge in second-chance points, grabbing 20 offensive rebounds.
Parker and Ginobili had an easy time breaking down the Pistons for easy layups or wide-open jumpers to build a 67-52 lead at the half.
``I've been in this business for a long time and I've never seen a team shoot 80 percent; that was incredible,' Kuester said. ``I thought that was the difference in the game. That hurt us.'
Ginobili finished with 17 points and Gary Neal had 15 points off the bench for San Antonio.
NOTES: Duncan passed Robert Parish to move into sole possession of ninth place on the NBA career blocked shots lists with 2,362. ... The Spurs swept the series against the Pistons for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
The Associated Press News Service
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