SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs shot poorly and didn't think they defended well, either. None of that could halt the defending champions' longest winning streak of the season.
Tim Duncan had 29 points and 12 rebounds for his 37th double-double of the season, and the Spurs overcame their offensive struggles to beat the New Jersey Nets 81-70 on Tuesday night for their 10th straight victory.
"Think about this. They won the game shooting 33 percent," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "That just shows you how good they are. Those guys are the gold standard. They make you grind it out."
Manu Ginobili added 12 points for the Spurs, who sit percentage points ahead of the Lakers atop a competitive Western Conference, where just a handful of games separates them from the eighth-place Golden State Warriors.
The Nets have lost two in a row and are hanging on to eighth place in the East.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the game "not a very memorable performance by any stretch at either end of the court," and his players echoed his assessment.
"Defensively we weren't very good. Our focus was a little down," Duncan said. "We got over the hump. We didn't shoot the ball well. We did well enough to win the game."
But the Nets figured the Spurs did something right if they could win going just 26-of-77 from the field.
"They can win games shooting a low percentage because they play great defense," said Nets center Josh Boone. "And we just didn't have any flow. We threw the ball all over the place."
The Spurs dispatched the Nets with ease for the second time in three days, winning the season series 2-0. San Antonio won 93-83 on Sunday night in New Jersey.
"It's not pretty the way they play, but they get it done," Harris said.
On Tuesday, the Spurs took the lead for good with 2:19 left in the first half when Ime Udoka's basket broke a 37-all tie.
The Spurs surged ahead late in the second quarter off an 18-1 run that crossed over into the third quarter. Duncan's second highlight dunk of the game, this time over New Jersey forward Richard Jefferson, capped the burst to put San Antonio up 53-38 with 7:16 to go in the period.
During the run, New Jersey didn't score a point for 6:42. The Spurs outscored the Nets 27-13 in what turned out to be the decisive second quarter.
The Nets managed to close within eight points in the third, but Ginobili stole the ball from Jefferson, then barely stayed in bounds on his way to a breakaway dunk. He followed with a 3 on the Spurs' next possession to put San Antonio back up by 12 points, 63-51, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Nets couldn't get within single digits in the fourth quarter, and San Antonio led by as many as 17.
The Spurs went to the line 31 times, sinking 25, while New Jersey got 16 foul shots, hitting 10. Heading into the final quarter, Duncan had gone to the line seven times, one more than the entire Nets team.
"It's tough to complain because they've earned that respect, but at the same point in time it does make it difficult to play at times," Jefferson said of the free-throw disparity.
Jefferson added 10 points for the Nets and Nenad Krstic grabbed 10 rebounds.
- Harris, acquired by the Nets in a trade last month that sent Jason Kidd to Dallas, got his first start with New Jersey. Harris scored 21 points in each of his first two games with the Nets.
- Tuesday's victory was the Spurs' 11th straight over New Jersey.
- Frank got a technical foul with 7:25 to go in the third quarter.
- The Spurs have lost just five games at home this season.
- Nets F Bostjan Nachbar was out with a strained left hip flexor.