MILWAUKEE (AP) — After a 69-point outburst in the first half, it would have been easy for the San Antonio Spurs to believe they were going to capture their seventh consecutive win with little resistance.
Instead, the Spurs had to withstand a pair of second half rallies from the Milwaukee Bucks to hang on for a 117-110 victory Wednesday night.
"We knew they were going to make a run at some point," said San Antonio forward Tim Duncan, who had 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. "They made a run there at the end. They are very good in this building and we knew that. They've come back on a lot of people here."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he, too, expected the Bucks to make a run, even though the Spurs jumped out to a 17-point halftime edge.
"They never die. That's one thing about these guys," Popovich said. "They've done it to a lot of teams. They did it again tonight. They put their heads down and started driving and they got themselves back into the game."
The Bucks used a 13-3 run over the last 2:57 of the third quarter to cut San Antonio's lead to 93-81. The Bucks eventually cut the lead to 94-85 early in the fourth quarter before Popovich reinserted his starters and the Spurs began to pull away again.
However, a 10-2 Bucks rally in the waning seconds of the game, which included a dunk by rookie John Henson, cut the Spurs' lead five points with 20 seconds remaining. A pair of free throws by Patty Mills with 12 seconds left sealed the victory for the Spurs.
"We were in a good groove but in the second half (Milwaukee) played hard," said Tony Parker, who added 23 points and 11 assists for the Spurs, who shot 52 percent from the field for the game. "They played with a lot of energy and came back on us. They played very physical."
Brandon Jennings paced Milwaukee with 31 points. Henson scored a career-high 20 points and added nine rebounds. Mike Dunleavy had 19 points.
Popovich said he had hoped San Antonio would have been able to maintain the wide margin it held prior to the Bucks' third-quarter rally so he could get his veteran players some much-needed rest in preparation for a Thursday night game in New York against the Knicks.
"I was hoping I could get some guys a little more rest but (Milwaukee) didn't allow that," Popovich said.
The Spurs were fined by NBA Commissioner David Stern earlier this season after Popovich sent Duncan, Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home for a national television game against the Miami Heat, which followed a game the previous night against the Orlando Magic.
Duncan, who played 34 minutes, said he wasn't concerned about rest.
"We were prepared to play it horn to horn," he said.
Despite having to fight off a challenge from the Bucks, San Antonio ran its record to 19-1 this season when leading after three quarters.