DALLAS - Tim Duncan bounced back from one of the least productive games of his career to score 17 points and reserve Gary Neal had 21, sending the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night in a showdown between the top two teams in the Western Conference.
Dirk Nowitzki missed his second straight game because of a sprained knee ligament and the Mavericks have lost both. Dallas had won 17 of 18 with its leading scorer.
San Antonio won for the 12th time in 14 games and improved to 28-4, extending the best start in franchise history. Coming off a thorough victory over the Lakers, the Spurs got behind in the opening minutes then used a 21-2 run that started late in the first quarter to go ahead for good.
Dallas’ Caron Butler had a season-high 30 points and Jason Kidd had a triple-double with 12 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Jason Terry tried picking up some of the scoring slack, too, but was 3 of 16, with a rut of 11 straight misses.
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Dallas had won the last four regular-season meetings, including in San Antonio earlier this season.
Duncan, who tied a career low with two points last game, scored eight points during the third quarter, helping slow Dallas rallies.
Neal was 5 of 8 on 3-pointers. He scored half of San Antonio’s 42 bench points.
Duncan was 5 of 9 with 11 rebounds. He made all seven of his free throws.
Brian Cardinal started in Nowitzki’s place and had nine points.
Nowitzki is expected to join the team on a trip to Milwaukee for a game on New Year’s Day.