Tim Duncan had 20 points and 16 rebounds to lead San Antonio past the Philadelphia 76ers, 89-76, last night, as the host Spurs opened defense of their NBA title and awaited the outcome of an arena election.
The Spurs and their supporters cheered the early results of a Bexar County referendum to raise hotel and rental car taxes to help pay for a new $175 million basketball arena. The referendum eventually passed. With 28 percent of the votes counted, 64,593 or 60 percent of Bexar County residents who voted approved the hike, while 43,605 or 40 percent voted against the referendum.
San Antonio led 60-58 two minutes into the fourth quarter, before a jumper by David Robinson and Terry Porter's three-pointer ignited a 17-0 run that put the Spurs comfortably ahead.
Porter, a veteran free agent guard signed during the offseason, scored eight points during the spurt, which made it 77-58 with 6 minutes 28 seconds left to play. Porter came off the bench and was the second-highest scorer for the Spurs with 15 points.
Allen Iverson, last season's scoring champion, provided most of the 76ers' offense, finishing with 28 points. George Lynch had 10 rebounds.
Duncan appeared to pick up where he left off in June when he was voted MVP of the NBA Finals as the Spurs defeated the New York Knicks in five games.
NBA Commissioner David Stern presented Spurs players and coaches with their championship rings before the game. The championship banner also was unfurled, the first title in the 26-year history of the San Antonio franchise.
HEAT 128, PISTONS 122: Reserves Mark Strickland and Clarence Weatherspoon sparked the Heat in the second extra period, and they outlasted Grant Hill and visiting Detroit in double overtime.
Three Heat starters had fouled out by the time Strickland put Miami ahead to stay with a tip-in at the start of the second overtime. He later converted a three-point play, and Weatherspoon scored six points in the period. Hill scored Detroit's first 13 points in overtime and finished with 41 in 52 minutes. Teammate Jerry Stackhouse had 26 points, including a three-pointer with half a second left in the fourth period to force overtime.
The NBA crackdown on physical play resulted in 81 fouls, six disqualifications, 91 free throws and a game that lasted 3 1/2 hours.
HORNETS 100, MAGIC 86: Eddie Jones powered a third-quarter run that helped Charlotte romp at home. Jones wound up with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals.
CELTICS 103, RAPTORS 90: In Toronto, Paul Pierce scored 30 points and Walter McCarty tied a career high with 20, including 6 for 6 on three-pointers. Pierce also had eight rebounds and five assists for the Celtics, who were 10 of 13 from long range.
BUCKS 98, ROCKETS 93: Sam Cassell lit up his former team with 35 points, one short of his career high, and Milwaukee held off host Houston. All five Houston starters scored in double figures, led by Steve Francis with 14.
MAVERICKS 108, WARRIORS 96: Michael Finley, ignoring pain in his right heel to play in his 298th straight game, scored 26 points and kept Dallas from ever trailing at home.
PACERS 119, NETS 112: Reggie Miller scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and visiting Indiana survived a 39-point performance by Stephon Marbury. The game featured 77 personal fouls, three technicals and one flagrant.
KNICKS 92, CAVALIERS 84: In New York, Larry Johnson had 24 points, his highest scoring game in two seasons, and keyed a late 14-0 run with one of his three three-pointers.
NUGGETS 107, SUNS 102: Nick Van Exel scored 34 points and George McCloud hit a three-pointer with 49 seconds left in overtime as Denver won in its regular season debut at Pepsi Center.
SUPERSONICS 104, CLIPPERS 92: In Los Angeles, reserve Vernon Maxwell scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. A crowd of 17,847 watched the first regular season NBA game at Staples Center.
TRAIL BLAZERS 106, GRIZZLIES 86: In Vancouver, Steve Smith overshadowed fellow newcomer Scottie Pippen, scoring 22 points to lead Portland. Pippen had 14 points.
LAKERS 91, JAZZ 84: In Salt Lake City, Glen Rice scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to help make Phil Jackson a winner in his NBA coaching return.