(Sports Network) – Gary Neal scored a team-high 21 points off the bench, helping the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in a high-powered Southwest Division matchup.
Tim Duncan posted 17 points and 11 rebounds for the division-leading Spurs, who have won three in a row and finished December with a 13-2 record. Manu Ginobili added 15 points and eight rebounds, while Tony Parker had 14 points, six boards and five assists.
Caron Butler posted a season-high 30 points to pace the Mavericks, while Jason Kidd added a triple-double of 12 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
The efforts helped make up for the absence of star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who is dealing with a right knee sprain and missed a second consecutive game. Dallas, which has the second-best record in the West behind the Spurs, lost both those games.
San Antonio held a 29-27 edge after the first quarter and built a substantial lead in the second.
Shortly into the frame, the Spurs used three-point shooting to fuel a 14-0 run. Ginobili and Neal both drained two shots from beyond the arc during the rally, which gave San Antonio a 45-29 advantage with under nine minutes left.
The Mavericks, however, used a 10-0 run later in the quarter to stay close and were within 53-46 at the break.
Dallas drew within a point several times in the third quarter, including when Tyson Chandler’s layup made it a 63-62 contest with 3:24 on the clock. But George Hill and Parker followed with a bucket each for the Spurs, who carried a 71-64 advantage to the fourth.
San Antonio then led by at least two possessions throughout the fourth. Dallas made a final run with about three minutes left, when Butler scored six consecutive points to bring the Mavericks within 88-82. However, the Spurs made 9-of-10 free throws in the final two minutes to secure the win.
Kidd recorded the 106th triple-double of his career…Hill scored 12 off the Spurs bench…Chandler finished with 11 boards and eight points for the Mavs…San Antonio held a 50-35 rebounding edge.