After 5 titles and 19 years, Spurs' Duncan retires
AFP Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 12:18 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- The scoreline in San Antonio read 113-100 on Sunday, but the number that really mattered to the Spurs was 21.
That's the number that was raised to the rafters as the Spurs — after downing the New Orleans Pelicans 113-100 — celebrated the 19-year NBA career of power forward Tim Duncan, who led the team to five championships before retiring prior to this season.
"No Tim, no championships," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, although that terse summing up was just part of the story told in a playful, sometimes emotional post-game ceremony.
Current Spurs players and former Duncan teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker paid tribute to a man they came to know as a friend as well as a teammate.
"He didn't lead in the normal way — there were no chest bumps," Argentina's Ginobili said. "Tim was our leader behind the scenes, in the hotel room or in the locker room out of the public eye."
Duncan, 40, departed the league having been named NBA finals Most Valuable Player three times and regular-season MVP twice.
The Spurs' .710 winning percentage during Duncan's tenure was the best 19-year stretch in NBA history and was the best in all of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB over that time.
But Popovich said Duncan's legacy extends beyond the gaudy numbers.
"I am proud to say to his mother and father, who have passed, that he is exactly the man now that he was when he walked in my door," Popovich said.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points and Ginobili added a season-high 17 for the Spurs, who were determined not to let the Pelicans spoil Duncan's night.
"We don't want to come in and not win the game for Timmy or not have him be retired on a good night," said guard Danny Green, who contributed nine points in the win.
Red-hot Beal Lifts Wizards
Bradley Beal enjoyed another big night in Washington, scoring 41 points for the Wizards as they rallied for a 117-110 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Markieff Morris scored 23 points and John Wall added 18 points and 11 assists for the Wizards, who won their a third straight game for the first time this season.
The Wizards overcame an 11-point second-half deficit in the second half and trailed the Clippers 102-95 midway through the fourth quarter.
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