SACRAMENTO, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Tim Duncan had 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists Thursday night to lead San Antonio past Sacramento, 83-81.
For the Kings, it was their first homecourt loss of the season, and it came on a night when star point guard Mike Bibby returned. He missed their first 27 games while recovering from a broken foot.
Bibby was sharp, scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Despite his presence, the Kings shot under 35 percent (34-of-98), were held to their second-lowest total of the season and lost for the first time in 14 games at Arco Arena.
"I kept telling them, 'don't lose this game,' but that's how it goes," Bibby said. "That's why we play so many games."
"In a building like this, if you can keep them close, like we did all night, it does help you because this is a fantastic place to play and you really hear it," said San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs arrived having lost four of their last five road games, and were facing one of the NBA's two remaining teams unbeaten at home.
Duncan was the game's pivotal player.
He took a two-minute breather during the fourth quarter, and the Spurs watched a 70-63 lead turn into a one-point deficit.
Upon his return, San Antonio put together a decisive 7-0 run.
"We are up seven with seven minutes left and then six minutes come and we are down one," Duncan said. "Those guys can throw it up real quick. I thought we did a great job sticking with it. We found a way to score some points."
Over the last four games, the 2002 NBA MVP is averaging 24.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists. The Spurs also got a big boost from Stephen Jackson, who had 18 points and eight rebounds.