David Robinson knew he had to do the job to keep Utah and Houston out of San Antonio's neighborhood atop the Midwest Division.
Robinson had 23 points and 15 rebounds Sunday as the Spurs averted a second-half collapse and beat the Phoenix Suns 109-101 Sunday.The win put San Antonio one game ahead of idle Utah in the division standings and 1 1/2 games ahead of third-place Houston.
"We needed this one pretty bad," Robinson said. "The loss to Seattle the other night really hurt us. We had a little cushion before that. Now, our backs are against the wall. I think we were a lot more focused in this game and a lot more ready to play."
Willie Anderson finished with 25 points and Terry Cummings added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who won their fourth straight game in Phoenix and are 9-1 against the Suns since Robinson joined the NBA two years ago.
Rookie Negele Knight scored 27 points and Jeff Hornacek 20 for the Suns, who had a franchise-record 16 blocked shots - six by center Mark West and five by Andrew Lang. The previous club best was 15, set Jan. 25 against Seattle.
Phoenix played its fifth straight game without Kevin Johnson (strained right hamstring) and Dan Majerle (spinal nerve irritation).
Tom Chambers, who sat out the previous three Suns games with lower back spasms, was held to just four points on 2-for-15 shooting.
"They were hurting, which was obvious," San Antonio coach Larry Brown said. "But they have the character that they're not going to give up. It was a really sensational game."
"My team played as hard as it could play. We just didn't have enough weapons to beat them," Phoenix coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said. "For some reason, we've always had people hurt whenever we've played the Spurs the last two years. Maybe we'll face them in the playoffs this year and everybody will be healthy and we'll have better luck against them."
San Antonio never trailed, but survived several scares.
The Spurs led 51-43 at halftime and 71-53 with 5:34 remaining in the third quarter. But Phoenix closed out the period with a 13-4 run capped by Hornacek's 3-point goal with 22 seconds left, closing the gap to 78-70.
Knight's jumper made it 82-78 with 9:04 to play, but Robinson's dunks started and ended a 10-2 spurt that put San Antonio up 92-80 with 5:44 left.
Phoenix got no closer than six points from there, losing for the fourth time in six games.
"Every time we started to get close, they made a run and played some good defense against us," said Knight, who was one point shy of his season high. "We played extremely hard, but we could never get the lead on them. They kept getting easy baskets on second shots."
Anderson had 17 points by halftime and Cummings 14, 10 coming in the first period.
Phoenix got itself into an early hole by making only seven of 25 first-quarter shots (28 percent).
Robinson had nine rebounds in the first half and 13 second-half points.
"Every time they made a run on us, we had an answer. That probably pleases me the most," Brown said. "Terry had a great game and David and Sean (Elliott) were tremendous defensively. Our bench really helped us and if Phoenix had a lot of blocks, it means we were really taking the ball to the hole."
"West surprised me with some of his blocks," Robinson said. "He was very active and was on the boards real well. But the Suns are a jump-shooting team and there were times where they hit nothing. We just held them off this time."