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Spurs lose, Bulls gain home edge through playoffs

By Bob Baum

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 13 2011 11:26 p.m. MDT

PHOENIX — Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and the Phoenix Suns denied San Antonio a chance for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs with a 106-103 victory over the Spurs in their regular-season finale on Wednesday night.

The Spurs, who at 61-21 finished a game behind Chicago for the best record in the NBA, lost Manu Ginobili to a hyperextended right elbow early in the game.

Had San Antonio and the Bulls finished tied and faced each other in the NBA finals, home-court advantage would have been determined by a random drawing because all other tiebreakers were equal.

Of greater concern to San Antonio could be the health of Ginobili, who went down with 9:46 left in the first quarter. The star guard slid to the floor near the San Antonio free throw line, then the Suns' Grant Hill fell on top of him.

X-rays for a more serious injury were negative. An MRI was planned on Thursday.

Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker sat out the Spurs' 102-93 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday but all three were in the starting lineup against Phoenix. Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds in 31 minutes. Parker scored 12 on 4 of 12 shooting in 25 minutes. Neither were on the court when the game ended.

Channing Frye and Jared Dudley scored 17 apiece for the Suns, who avoided a four-game sweep of the season series.

Phoenix failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three years after a surprise run to the Western Conference finals a year ago, which included a second-round sweep of San Antonio.

The Suns shot out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter Wednesday night and the Spurs never could catch them.

After shooting 65 percent in the first 12 minutes (17 of 26), the Suns made 20 percent (5 of 25) in the second to lead 61-53 at the break.

San Antonio cut the lead to 66-63 on Parker's short jumper three minutes into the second half, but an 11-1 Phoenix run made it 77-64 when Dudley made a pair of free throws with 5:01 to play in the period.

Down 85-74 after three, the Spurs came back to make it a free throw shootout down the stretch. Aaron Brooks sank two from the line to put Phoenix ahead 106-103 with 3.9 seconds to go. Gary Neal threw up an airball from the corner for San Antonio just before the buzzer.

Notes: Hill became the seventh player in NBA history to average at least 13 points at age 38 or older. ... Ginobili missed two games this season, only one because of injury: March 28 against Portland because of a bruised left quad. ... Phoenix's Steve Nash led the NBA in assists for the fifth time, joining John Stockton and Jason Kidd as the only players to do so. ... San Antonio had the best record in the West for the sixth time in franchise history — five of them with Duncan. ... The Suns won 40 games for the seventh straight season.

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