28-36, 10-21 away
43-20, 23-8 home

Spurs end Bobcats' franchise-record winning streak

SAN ANTONIO -- The Charlotte Bobcats finally lost, but are still in the playoff hunt. The San Antonio Spurs won again and now await what might be a playoff preview.

Tim Duncan had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and the Spurs halted Charlotte's franchise-record winning streak at six with a 100-86 victory Tuesday night.

Roger Mason and Tony Parker added 21 points apiece for the Spurs, who will take a three-game winning streak into Thursday's home game against the Los Angeles Lakers, a marquee meeting of the Western Conference's top two teams.

"We've been playing pretty solid," said Spurs forward Kurt Thomas, who pulled down 10 rebounds. "We hit a few bumps in the road when we lost a couple of games. But I think we've bounced back and hopefully we can show that on Thursday night."

The Bobcats, meanwhile, head home a game behind eighth-place Chicago in their bid to make the playoffs for the first time since joining the NBA in the 2004-05 season. Raja Bell and Emeka Okafor each had 16 points in the loss.

Charlotte hung close with the Spurs -- only the second team with a winning record that the Bobcats faced in their past seven games -- before falling behind in the fourth.

Mason scored nine in the final quarter, all on 3-pointers that seemed to break Charlotte's momentum.

"We were putting ourselves in a position to win and we let it slip," Bell said. "It [stinks], but we've got more games to play so we've got to get back and get ready."

The Bobcats arrived in San Antonio as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, rattling off the winning streak and taking seven of 10 to put themselves back in the playoff picture. The loss also snapped Charlotte's four-game winning streak on the road, which had tied a franchise best.

Raymond Felton had 15 points and Gerald Wallace 14 for Charlotte.

"We knew it would be a grind-it-out game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Charlotte closed the first quarter with consecutive 3-pointers by Vladimir Radmanovic and Wallace to go up 29-23. Mason then single-handedly outscored Charlotte 9-0 to start the second, hitting a pair of jumpers, a 3-pointer and a slashing layup to retake the lead.

Another eight consecutive points from Parker later in the second dug San Antonio out of another hole before the Spurs went on a nearly three-minute dry spell toward the end of the quarter. They went into the locker room tied at 46.

The Bobcats tied it again at 71 entering the fourth thanks to a buzzer-beating jumper by Felton, who drained the energy from the crowd after Thomas cleaned up Duncan's missed tip seconds earlier.

It all set up what began as a back-and-forth finale in the fourth. Mason hit a 3-pointer, then Bell answered right back with a 3 of his own. But after a timeout, the Spurs pulled away.

Another 3-pointer by Mason, his fifth and final of the night, with just under four minutes left sealed the win.

"We had a heck of a streak," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "For three quarters we played well enough to win. But the Spurs are a championship-caliber team and got contributions late from a lot of different sources."

Charlotte returns home to face Houston, another West contender, on Friday before heading back on the road the next night against Minnesota with about a month left in the season.

The Spurs will face the Lakers on Thursday without Manu Ginobili or new addition Drew Gooden, who both continue to sit out with injuries. The Lakers expect to have Lamar Odom back by then after the NBA suspended him for Wednesday's game against Houston for leaving the bench during an altercation Monday in Portland.

Game notes
The Bobcats fell to 8-11 against teams formerly coached by Brown, who still has six games left against his former clubs. Brown coached the Spurs from 1988-91. ... San Antonio improved its all-time record against Charlotte to 9-1.