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Hawks lose but clinch playoff spot

POSTED: March 25, 2009 10:16 p.m.

ATLANTA — Tony Parker scored 42 points and the San Antonio Spurs, playing without Tim Duncan, ended Atlanta's eight-game home winning streak with a 102-92 victory on Wednesday night.

Despite the loss, the Hawks clinched their second straight playoff spot, after losses by Milwaukee, Charlotte and New Jersey.
Parker enjoyed his second-best scoring total of the season. He set a career high with 55 points at Minnesota on Nov. 5.

Joe Johnson had 30 points, including Atlanta's first 11 points of the fourth quarter, but he had too little help as the Hawks suffered their first loss at Philips Arena since March 1. No other Atlanta player scored in the period until Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining and Josh Smith added a jam 30 seconds later to cut the Spurs' lead to 96-90.

Parker, who had 10 assists, answered with six straight points for the Spurs.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested Duncan the day after a home win over Golden State. Duncan already sat out back-to-back games earlier this month to rest his knees.

Roger Mason had 18 points and Michael Finley added 13 for the Spurs.

Flip Murray, who had a season-high 30 points against Minnesota on Monday, stayed hot by scoring 13 points in his first 8 minutes off the bench in the first half. Murray, who finished with 15 points, helped the Hawks stay close early despite Parker's 20 first-half points.

With Parker making 10 of 13 shots, the Spurs led 53-48 at halftime and stretched the lead to double figures at 72-61. Mason had back-to-back 3-pointers in a 12-3 run in the third period.

The Hawks answered with a 13-2 run to pull even at 74 entering the final period.

Manu Ginobili had two points in 13 minutes as he returned in a limited role for the Spurs after missing 19 games with a right ankle injury.

Notes: Bibby needed four stitches in his forehead to close a cut after he was hit by Matt Bonner late in the first quarter. He returned midway through the second period. ... Former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, a Texas native who could be the first pick in next month's NFL draft, watched the game from a courtside seat near the Hawks' bench.



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