Tim Duncan bounced back from one of the least productive games of his career to score 17 points and reserve Gary Neal had 21, sending the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night in a showdown between the top two teams in the Western Conference.
Dirk Nowitzki missed his second straight game because of a sprained knee ligament and the Mavericks have lost both. Dallas had won 17 of 18 with its leading scorer.
San Antonio won for the 12th time in 14 games and improved to 28-4, extending the best start in franchise history. Coming off a thorough victory over the Lakers, the Spurs got behind in the opening minutes then used a 21-2 run that started late in the first quarter to go ahead for good.
Dallas' Caron Butler had a season-high 30 points and Jason Kidd had a triple-double with 12 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Jason Terry tried picking up some of the scoring slack, too, but was 3 of 16, with a rut of 11 straight misses.
Dallas had won the last four regular-season meetings, including in San Antonio earlier this season.
Duncan, who tied a career low with two points last game, opened the game with his trademark bank shot. In keeping with the way San Antonio has played this season, the ball didn't go through him much but he showed he could still be effective. He scored eight points during the third quarter, helping slow several Dallas rallies.
Neal was 5 of 8 on 3-pointers. He scored half of San Antonio's 42 bench points.
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Duncan was 5 of 9 with 11 rebounds. He made all seven of his free throws.
Manu Ginobili scored 15 points, despite a sinus problem that makes it hard to breathe through his mouth, and Tony Parker added 14. George Hill scored 12.
Shawn Marion was Dallas' only other double-digit scorer with 10. Brian Cardinal started in Nowitzki's place and had nine points.
Nowitzki is expected to join the team on a trip to Milwaukee for a game on New Year's Day.
- This was the 106th triple-double of Kidd's career.
- Mavs C Brendan Haywood suited up but didn't play for the first time this season. He's yet to play a minute against the Spurs in two meetings this season; he was suspended last time they met.
- Neal was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers through three quarters. His lone miss was an air ball that wasn't even close.
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban flew in from a vacation in the Cayman Islands for this game and was headed back Thursday.
- The Spurs got an additional defender by happenstance in the second quarter. Terry stole the ball from Duncan and was headed for a breakaway layup, but official Derrick Stafford got in his way.