It was, as Tim Duncan said, exactly the type of situation he didn't want his team to be in.
But somehow -- and their high-scoring bench and franchise-low three turnovers probably had something to do with it -- the Spurs sent the Magic home Wednesday night with a 128-110 loss that snapped Orlando's five-game winning streak and 7-0 road record.
"Probably our best win of the year, without a doubt," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Tony Parker scored a season-high 32 points and had nine assists in the Spurs' third consecutive victory. San Antonio is 7-0 at home.
Duncan had 20 points and 16 rebounds for the Spurs (10-2). Reserve Manu Ginobili had 27 points.
The Magic outshot the Spurs from the field, hitting 42-of-75 (56 percent) to San Antonio's 48-of-93 (52 percent).
"They shot a high percentage the whole game, but I thought in the second half we did a little better job of getting some stops, Duncan said. "We kind of got on a roll there."
The Spurs had the lead for the entire fourth quarter after a close game early on.
The Spurs trailed 64-59 at the half before Bruce Bowen's second 3 of the game with 8:11 left in the third quarter gave the Spurs a 71-70 lead, their first since late in the second. After that it was back and forth, with the teams tied four times before the Spurs started to pull away.
Parker's jumper with 3:07 to go in the quarter gave San Antonio the lead for good, 82-81.
"For the most part, they just hit shots (in the second half)," Nelson said. "They executed well and capitalized on our mistakes."
The Spurs finished the game with a franchise-low three turnovers. The Magic had 13.
Ginobili took over from there, scoring nine consecutive points for the Spurs in the last 2:01 of the quarter to put them up 93-90 heading into the fourth.
After that, Howard's dunk off an alley-oop pass with about two minutes gone in the fourth was Orlando's last score for more than four minutes. The Spurs went on a 12-2 run to go up 111-97 with less than five minutes to play.
"It was just that stretch in the fourth quarter where we couldn't buy a basket," Howard said. "They kept making shots and opened the game up."
San Antonio led by double digits for the rest of the game.
The Spurs went with a smaller lineup, knowing that to beat Howard and the Magic they'd have to score big. Starting center Fabricio Oberto played less than 17 minutes. Backup center Francisco Elson played less than two minutes.
"We felt to win the game we were going to have to score. Our small lineup can score better in certain situations," Popovich said.
There was still, of course, the highly anticipated matchup between two of the best bigs in league. And Duncan and Howard certainly delivered.
Howard had a last-second, alley-oop dunk to stun the Spurs last season, and was a big factor in Orlando's early success in this game, with 19 points and 12 rebounds at that half.
"I thought Dwight was really active at the rim. They looked for him," Popovich said.
The Magic surged to a 23-15 lead in the first quarter off an 8-0 run. They finished the period up 34-30 with the help of 10 points from Turkoglu.
The Spurs started strong in the second and went up 49-42 off Barry's 3-pointer from the corner with 5:58 left in the half. But the momentum shifted after that, with Howard scoring five points in a 1½-minute span, including an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Turkoglu, to bring the Magic within 51-47.
From there, Orlando's 3-point attempts started falling, with Bogans hitting two 3s and Nelson adding one that put the Magic up 62-55 with 40 seconds on the clock. Parker's six consecutive points for the Spurs in the last 1:02 of the quarter reduced the Magic's lead to 64-59 at the break.
The Magic shot better than 64 percent in the half. Howard's 12 rebounds at halftime were just three fewer than the Spurs.
- The Spurs announced Wednesday that they had assigned rookie C Ian Mahinmi to the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. The 6-foot-11 Mahinmi played in six games for the Spurs this season.
- San Antonio's bench outscored Orlando's 51-11.
- In the matchup of two teams that shoot well from beyond the arc, the Spurs came out on top, hitting 13-of-24. The Magic were 10-of-20.
- San Antonio was on the second game of a back-to-back after beating Atlanta on Tuesday. Parker had 31 points in that contest.