EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New Jersey Nets notched their 10th victory Monday night, avoiding any chance of tying for the worst record in NBA history by beating the short-handed San Antonio Spurs 90-84.
Brook Lopez had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets, who grabbed control with a 15-4 run late in the fourth quarter to improve to 10-64. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73, will remain in the record books as the league's worst team.
Public address announcer Gary Sussman shouted "We got 10! The Nets win!" after New Jersey snapped a 14-game losing streak in the series, committing a franchise record-low four turnovers in beating San Antonio for the first time since the 2003 NBA finals.
With Manu Ginobili (lower back spasms) joining Tony Parker on the injured list and Tim Duncan struggling through a poor shooting game, the Spurs had few answers on the second night of a back-to-back following an impressive victory at Boston on Sunday.
George Hill scored 19 points and former Net Richard Jefferson finished with 16 after a strong start for the Spurs, who fell out of a sixth-place tie in the Western Conference with Oklahoma City and Portland.
New Jersey has been in danger of the worst record ever since opening the season with an NBA-record, 18-game losing streak. But the Nets have now won three of four, taking the pressure off the remainder of their schedule.
They were helped Monday when Ginobili, the reigning Western Conference player of the week, had such trouble with his back that he had trouble putting his pants on in the morning. Then reserve Roger Mason Jr. was forced to sit out the second half with a sprained right pinky knuckle.
Duncan finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds but missed eight of his first 12 shots before finishing 6 of 15 from the field.
Courtney Lee scored 19 points and Devin Harris had 17 points and nine assists for the Nets. Terrence Williams had 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The Nets tied it at 72 on Williams' 3-pointer with 8:13 remaining, but Hill scored before setting up Matt Bonner's 3 for a 77-72 lead with 6:12 left. New Jersey answered with eight in a row to regain the lead, and after a rare basket by Duncan, Lopez slammed down Harris' alley-oop pass for an 82-79 edge with 3:27 to play.
A free throw by Lopez and a basket by Williams pushed it to 85-79, but San Antonio was back within three after Bonner's 3-pointer with 34 seconds left. The Spurs got the ball back after Harris' miss, but Duncan threw away a pass and the Nets closed it out from the foul line.
This appeared to be a tough week for New Jersey to get win No. 10, with San Antonio, Phoenix and New Orleans all coming to the Izod Center. But the Spurs who showed up Monday hardly looked like the team that was coming off victories over Cleveland and Boston.
Jefferson scored 10 points in the first quarter, when the Spurs shot 54 percent and opened a 33-27 lead. It was ugly from there, as the teams combined for 29 points with neither shooting above 35 percent in the second before San Antonio took a 46-43 lead into halftime.
Hill and DeJuan Blair each scored eight in the third — the rest of the Spurs managed only four — and San Antonio was up four heading to the final period.
NOTES: Ginobili said he was feeling better after treatment and expects to play in the next game. ... Jefferson is third on the Nets' career scoring list. ... The Spurs signed swingman Alonzo Gee from Austin of the NBA Development League. He recently played 11 games for the Washington Wizards.