SAN ANTONIO -- If Tim Duncan threw down more dunks, he says he might better understand why NBA fans have made him an All-Star starter for 10 consecutive seasons.
The New Jersey Nets probably know why.
The slumping Nets scraped and matched San Antonio nearly shot-for-shot throughout a tense fourth quarter, but Duncan scored six of his 30 points down the stretch and Michael Finley sank a backbreaking 3-pointer with 22.6 seconds left to lift the Spurs to a 94-91 win on Friday night.
Duncan also grabbed 15 boards -- his 28th double-double this season -- in carrying San Antonio to its fourth consecutive win heading into a three-game road swing out West that will be its toughest so far.
First up Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers. Then Utah. Then Phoenix.
"It's going to be a tough road trip either way," said Duncan, who also had five assists and blocked four shots. "We would have loved to close the one out a little earlier than we did tonight, but you never complain about victories."
The Spurs are getting used to eking out wins. The victory was San Antonio's ninth in 11 games this season in which the margin of victory has been three points or less.
San Antonio had walked back to its locker room and the dancers were nearly a minute into a full-court celebration routine before officials ruled after a film review that 0.2 seconds on the clock still remained.
That gave the Nets hope -- but not enough time to catch-and-release a shot. Carter fielded the inbound and instantly sailed a 3-pointer that misfired, but officials blew the game-ending whistle before the shot even left his hand.
Carter and Nets coach Lawrence Frank rushed to halfcourt to protest, but the game was over. Carter pounded his hands together in frustration and marched back to the locker room.
"It's two-tenths of a second and you can't catch it, all you can do is tip it," Nets coach Lawrenece Frank said. "The question is should there have been two-tenths or three-tenths? With two-tenths all you can do is tip it. You're not allowed to control it."
It might have been a different ending entirely if it wasn't for Finley's clutch shot. Manu Ginobili found the veteran forward wide open in the corner after it looked as though he might stumble out of bounds on the baseline with Carter blanketing him.
For Harris, a veteran of some Mavericks-Spurs thrillers from his days in Dallas, the play looked awfully familiar.
"You know you have two guys setting back picks and he slipped a guy to the corner," Harris said. "It's money in the bank. I told Pop I've seen it a lot of times in Dallas."
The Nets arrived losers of four straight -- the Celtics clobbered them twice -- but kept the Spurs on their toes from the start.
Carter set the tone with two quick jumpers and a hard, one-handed dunk after wrapping around Duncan that ushered the first "oohs" of the game. Carter, who finished third in All-Star voting among guards in the East, finished the first half with 15 points.
The Nets opened the second quarter on a 13-0 run with Duncan and Tony Parker on the bench for the Spurs, and Harris hit a pull-up 3-pointer on a fast break with 28.8 left to give New Jersey a 50-44 halftime lead.
The schedule gets easier for the Nets. New Jersey finishes the latter half of its four-game road swing at cellar-dwelling Memphis and Oklahoma City.
Carter shot 9-of-18 from the field and rookie Brook Lopez had 15 for New Jersey.
Parker scored 17 points and Roger Mason had 14 for San Antonio.
"Timmy carried us tonight," Parker said. "He was huge tonight."
- During a timeout midway through the second quarter, players from both teams paused to applaud thousands of military personnel in attendance.
- For a small-market team, the Spurs apparently have a lot of fans -- or their fans know how to stuff the All-Star ballot box. Spurs F Bruce Bowen, playing fewer minutes this season than any point in his 13-year career, finished third among Western Conference forwards with 1.39 million votes.