SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Michael Finley might have been the only person in Arco Arena who didn't realize his winning 3-pointer almost certainly didn't leave his hands before the 24-second clock expired. He was too busy catching Tony Parker's pass and launching it to pay attention to the red 00 above the hoop.
Kings guard Bobby Jackson certainly saw it. He also couldn't help noticing that the team with four championships and 12 straight playoff berths got the break, and the franchise with the NBA's worst record got one more reason to hate this season.
Finley's 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left counted despite a fairly obvious shot-clock violation, and San Antonio came from behind for a 95-92 victory over Sacramento on Sunday night.
"It was just a bad call, period," said Jackson, who scored 11 points. "I think at the end of the day, you've got to call the game the way it's supposed to be called. We fought ... and that's all we can do. It comes down to one last call, and it was in the refs' hands. That's how it goes sometimes."
Parker had 25 points and nine assists -- including the pass to Finley for the winner that probably wasn't -- as the Spurs moved into a tie with Houston atop the Southwest Division with two games left despite keeping Tim Duncan out of uniform to rest his sore knees.
If the Spurs (52-28) hang on to win the division title and the superior playoff seeding that goes with it, they'll fondly look back on a shot that even coach Gregg Popovich thought shouldn't have counted.
"I looked on the film, and it looked like it was still in his hand," Popovich said. "I didn't study it, but I looked real quickly, and it looked like it was still in his hands."
With Duncan sidelined, the NBA-worst Kings led for most of the night, but Parker and Roger Mason both scored to tie it in the final minutes before the winner by Finley, who missed his first five 3-point attempts of the night before hitting the last.
"Catch and shoot, that's what I saw," said Finley, who had nine points. "Tony made a great play penetrating, and he kicked it out to me. ... The great refereeing staff we had said it counted, so we'll take it."
Referee Dan Crawford's crew explained that shot-clock violations are unreviewable to irate Sacramento coach Kenny Natt, whose Kings lost their eighth straight and 15th in 17 games. Sacramento finished its Arco schedule with the worst home winning percentage in franchise history at 11-30 (.268).
Although Natt was confident the buzzer beat Finley, the interim coach knew no game really comes down to a single shot.
"We just got taken advantage of on the offensive boards," Natt said of the 14 offensive rebounds allowed by Sacramento. "Kurt Thomas was really effective in keeping the ball alive for them. We gave them too many opportunities, and they took advantage of that."
Spencer Hawes scored a career-high 24 points for the Kings, who played without star Kevin Martin for the sixth straight game because of a sore left ankle. After the game, Natt said Martin won't play in Sacramento's two season-ending road contests.
Even with postseason positioning at stake, the Spurs gave Duncan the night off. Duncan has been hobbling for months, occasionally missing a game or leaving early, as he did in last Wednesday's loss to Portland, but he'll be back for Monday night's game at Golden State.
Mason scored 22 points and Thomas had 13 rebounds for the Spurs, who are just 9-8 since March 10, allowing Houston to move ahead of them in the division race.
The Kings, who lost their fifth in a row to San Antonio, finish the season with a road trip to Denver and Minnesota, while the Spurs host New Orleans on Wednesday after their trip to Oakland.
Francisco Garcia scored 12 points for the Kings, and Andres Nocioni had 11. Beno Udrih capped his 1-for-12 performance against his former San Antonio teammates with three misses in the closing seconds.
Hawes, the University of Washington product whose all-around development has been one of the Kings' few positives this season, surpassed his previous career high on a baseline jumper with 3:50 to play. He grabbed eight rebounds while going 10-for-18. ... Udrih spent his first three NBA seasons with San Antonio, winning two championship rings before joining the Kings as a free agent in November 2007. Before the game, the Slovenian guard went to the Spurs' bench to hug Popovich. ... Drew Gooden, who spent 12 days with the Kings earlier this season after a trade with Chicago, had nine points and five rebounds for the Spurs, who signed him after Sacramento released him to save money.
- Dan Crawford
- Bennie Adams
- John Goble