NCAA

Tony Parker, Spurs hold off Hawks, 98-93

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Tony Parker, Spurs hold off Hawks, 98-93

ATLANTA (AP) With Tim Duncan given a night off and Manu Ginobili still out with a hamstring injury, Tony Parker took the lead for the San Antonio Spurs.

Parker had 23 points and 12 assists, and the Spurs held off the short-handed Atlanta Hawks 98-93 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

``Tony is just incredible,'' said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. ``What competitiveness. What a will to win. What a will to carry the team. He's really fun to watch at both ends of the court. And he's been doing that all year.''

The Spurs snapped a streak of three straight road losses with their first win away from San Antonio since Jan. 2.

Matt Bonner added 17 points, and Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter each had 14 for the Spurs.

Parker had 10 points in the final period as the Spurs held off the Hawks' comeback. He was effective with his drives and when setting up Splitter on pick-and-roll plays.

``In the fourth quarter I was trying to be aggressive and take more shots and at the same time still find Tiago on the roll,'' Parker said. ``It worked out pretty well tonight.

``That's what I do best. I go to the paint and try to create, and if I feel comfortable when I go to the basket, I always feel like I can get a shot up. I've been doing that my whole life.''

The Hawks began the game with a new depth problem in their backcourt. The problem reached crisis level in the second half.

The Hawks announced about 90 minutes before the game that guard Lou Williams faces season-ending surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee. Williams was hurt Friday at Brooklyn and the tear was found when Williams was examined on Saturday by Dr. Michael Bernot in Atlanta.

Then the Hawks lost guard Devin Harris to a sprained left ankle early in the final period. Harris didn't return from the locker room after having the ankle taped.

Hawks coach Larry Drew said he had ``no idea'' on the severity of Harris' injury. Harris was hobbling in the locker room after the game, unable to put weight on his left foot.

``We are down to one point guard,'' Drew said, referring to Jeff Teague.

``We're certainly going to have to talk about getting some more bodies in here because we are depleted.''

Josh Smith led the Hawks with 21 points. Kyle Korver, who started at shooting guard, had 19 points and a season-high eight rebounds.

The Spurs led by 12 in the first half but Atlanta kept the game close in the final two periods. A basket by Hawks rookie John Jenkins tied the game at 72-all early in the final period, but Bonner's basket gave San Antonio the lead for good.

Jenkins made two free throws with 22 seconds remaining to cut the Spurs' lead to 94-91, but San Antonio beat the Hawks' full-court press for an easy basket by Splitter.

Drew called Williams' injury ``devastating'' to the team. Williams was third on the team with his average of 14.1 points.

Even though Williams usually came off the bench, his injury affected Drew's starting lineup. Korver started instead of Harris because Drew said he wasn't comfortable having both his healthy point guards - Harris and Teague - in the lineup.

Drew said the injury to Harris hurt the Hawks' comeback attempt.

``It certainly hurt us because I thought at that point we were really getting into a groove and a rhythm with our speed,'' Drew said. ``Kyle was making some shots. Josh was doing a good job in attacking the rim. We were active, and we were really getting up and down the floor. We lost Devin, and that kind of let the wind out of our sails a little bit.''

The Hawks have lost eight of 10.

``It happens during the season,'' Teague said. ``It just happens to be tough for us right now.''

Al Horford had nine points and 15 rebounds for Atlanta after missing Friday's loss with a sore left hamstring.

Bonner made all of his three 3-point attempts in the first half as the Spurs led 52-42 at the break. Korver had three 3-pointers in the half for Atlanta.

The Hawks had a strong start to the second half and took a 61-60 lead after Smith drove past Boris Diaw on the baseline. Diaw answered with a basket to start an 8-0 run for the Spurs, who led 72-70 entering the final period.

NOTES: There were fans wearing the colors for both teams in Sunday's NFC championship game at the Georgia Dome between the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. ... R&B artist Mary J. Blige was in the crowd. ... Popovich, asked before the game why Ginobili is with the team though he is expected to miss at least another week with a left hamstring injury, said ``eye candy.'' ... Korver has made at least one 3-pointer in a career-high 33 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in Hawks history. Mookie Blaylock had 3s in 42 straight games from March 26, 1996, to Jan. 11, 1997.

Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

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Wolfpack overcomes 10-minute scoring drought to top Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- D.J. Funderburk scored 14 points before fouling out and North Carolina State overcame a second-half scoring drought of more than 10 minutes in a 53-51 victory against Virginia on Monday night.

C.J. Bryce added 13 points for the Wolfpack (14-5, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a jumper with 27 seconds left after allowing the shot clock to race to near 0:00. The victory ended an eight-game losing streak against the Cavaliers.

Viginia (12-6, 4-4) used a 15-0 run during the N.C. State scoring drought that lasted 10:13 to take a 46-42 lead, bringing the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena back into the game. But Jericole Hellems hit a 3-pointer for N.C. State with 3:38 left and, after a free throw by Mamadi Diakite for Virginia, Markell Johnson hit a 3-pointer and then Hellems' putback gave the Wolfpack a 50-47 lead.

Johnson and Bryce both missed the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities, and Kihei Clark hit a pair for Virginia. Braxton Beverly made the first and missed the second for the Wolfpack with 7.2 seconds left, and the Cavaliers Casey Morsell was short on a contested 3 at the buzzer.

Clark led Virginia with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolfpack had used an 8-0 run to go ahead 42-31. Virginia helped out by going scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes. Francisco Caffaro, who had just been inserted into the game, ended the drought with 11:13 left.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack seemed on their way to a solid victory until the drought, during which they were 1 for 8 from the field with five turnovers and repeatedly let the shot clock run down into single digits, forcing bad shots.

Virginia: In the Cavaliers' continuing search for scoring help, freshman Casey Morsell had as many as three field goals for the first time since a 65-56 victory against Navy on Dec. 29. He was 4 for 20 from the field in his last five games. He finished the night 4 for 9 and his buzzer-beater attempt was closely guarded.

UP NEXT

The Wolfpack remains on the road and plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers go on the road and play at Wake Forest on Sunday.

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Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

Despite place in standings, Wizards believe playoffs aren't a pipe dream

WASHINGTON -- This may be the most realistic and self-aware Wizards team we have seen in a while. It wasn't long ago they had a penchant for talking big about what they believed they could accomplish. Nowadays, knowing where they are in the standings, their expectations are much more measured.

They know they are 12th in the Eastern Conference, even after beating the Pistons on Monday. They know their 14-28 record, which is 14 games under .500 and has them on pace to win 27 total games, isn't good.

But the Wizards are allowed to dream and they say making the playoffs is still something they would like to do.

"That's the goal, that's every day for us. [It's] in the back of my mind," shooting guard Bradley Beal said.

"I watch the games, I watch the standings and everything. We're not talking about it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "If that comes into play [we'll see]. The seventh and eighth seeds, the records aren't great."

There is certainly a case for that. The two teams currently occupying the bottom two playoff spots in the East have sub-.500 records. The seventh-ranked Magic are 20-23 and the Brooklyn Nets are in eighth with an 18-24 mark.

Last season, the Charlotte Hornets held up the Eastern Conference playoff bracket with a losing record as the eighth seed. They went 39-43, not good but still a much better pace than the Wizards are currently on. To win 39 games, they would have to go 25-16 the rest of the way.

Though they have shown some positive signs, going 4-4 in their last eight games, that would require going to a completely different level in the second half of the season. Still, there is no harm in maintaining their goals.

Beal, for one, has envisioned a way it can happen.

"Especially once All-Star hits, that second half is just flying. We have to tighten up and try to get some wins here before the break because that's usually the time when teams like to ease off the pedal a little bit. We have to take advantage of [that], that advantage of our schedule, take care of our bodies, and rally together," he said.

If the Wizards really, really wanted to go for the playoffs, they could try to add some pieces before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. But that should not be expected. In fact, this year's deadline for the Wizards likely won't be affected much at all by the playoff picture.

It's hard to envision them being buyers and they may not be able to be true sellers, either, due to injuries and other factors. Also, there is a belief in the front office that keeping a close distance in the playoff race could be a nice incentive for their young players, that having something to work for later in the season could help their development.

If the Wizards did somehow make the playoffs or even get close, that would be quite the surprise and it would say a lot about the direction of the organization. But in the long-term, it would seem to be more beneficial if they continue on their current course and end up with a top draft pick.

The Wizards right now have the fifth-worst record in the league. That would net them a lot of ping-pong balls for the draft lottery.

It seems likely that's where this season will end. But it doesn't hurt to try.

"We just want to play. We just want to finish the second half of the season playing better," Brooks said.

The Wizards are only 4 1/2 games back in the playoff race. Stranger things have happened.

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