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Spurs secure top seed in West with win

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SAN ANTONIO — After San Antonio’s devastating loss to the Miami Heat in last year’s NBA Finals, some questioned whether the Spurs could rebound from it.

Ten months later, they answered those doubts, clinching the top seed in the Western Conference with the best record in the NBA.

Guard Danny Green had a career-high 33 points, leading the Spurs with a 112-104 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at the AT&T Center.

Green was 12 of 17 from the field and hit seven 3-pointers as San Antonio (62-18) extended its home winning streak to 15 games.

“It was good,” Green said of his shooting performance. “Not every shot felt good, but for some reason they were dropping. We needed it. It looked like we were low on energy coming in from a back-to-back. It seemed like everyone else followed and picked us up in the second half.”

Guard Tony Parker and forward Kawhi Leonard both added 18 points in the win. Guard Marco Belinelli had 12 points and guard Patty Mills contributed 11 for the Spurs, who clinched the top seed in the Western Conference.

“It’s a big plus,” Green said on the Spurs getting home court throughout the playoffs. “The biggest thing for us right now is to stay healthy and to build chemistry. Winning games in the process helps and we get home-court advantage. That’s just the extra bonus for us.”

It was a miraculous comeback for the short-handed Spurs, who were down 21 points in the first half. Parker ignited San Antonio in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the first six minutes. The Spurs outscored Phoenix 37-19 in the quarter.

“I was just trying to be aggressive,” a rested Parker said after the game. “We were down 13, so just tried to bring some energy to the team. It was a back-to-back for everybody. And I had four or five days off, so I was just trying to bring energy.”

But San Antonio did not take the lead until Belinelli connected on a jump shot with 2:45 that made it 79-78. It was the first time San Antonio led since being up 9-7.

Phoenix tied the score at 95 with 5:30 left, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Leonard and Belinelli with three minutes left pulled the Spurs ahead.

“These games happen,” Suns guard Eric Bledsoe said. “We had a good lead, we blew it and they came back and wanted it more than us down the stretch, so we just have to move on to the next game.”

Phoenix was led by Bledsoe with 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in 37 minutes.

Guard Gerald Green got the start when guard Goran Dragic, the Suns’ leading scorer, was scratched before the game with a sprained left ankle. Green finished with 27 points.

Forward Markieff Morris added 20 points off the bench and forward Channing Frye had 13 for Phoenix (47-32), which is battling for the final playoff spot with the Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Suns came out hot, shooting 70 percent from the field in the first quarter. They went on a 23-5 run that ended when Markieff Morris caught a pass from Smith and slammed it home to put the Suns up by 21 with 1:42 left.

The Spurs, after giving up 37 points in the first quarter, clapped down on the athletic Suns and cut the lead to nine when Parker hit a 18-footer to make it 45-36 halfway through the second quarter.

But Phoenix powered back in gear and finished the half up 62-49 on the Spurs. The 62 points were the most San Antonio had given up in a half all season, with Green and Bledsoe combining for 36 points.

“We felt like we were in the ballgame the whole time,” Green said. “Even when we were up, we knew that it was a good start for us, but we knew they were going to make a run. We have to tip our hats to them. They made the right plays at the end of the game.”

NOTES: After a two-game absence nursing a sprained facet joint, Spurs G Tony Parker returned to the starting lineup. He made space on the bench for F Tim Duncan (rest), G Manu Ginobili (rest) and F Matt Bonner (food poisoning), who all sat out the game. … Phoenix G Gerald Green has been averaging 25.7 points and hit 13 3-pointers in his last three games. … San Antonio has a balanced record, winning 75 percent of their games at home (31-8) and on the road (30-10) this season. They are the only team above that mark in the NBA. … The Suns are 20-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field… NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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