HOUSTON - An inspired Tim Duncan scored 23 points to lead the injury-riddled San Antonio Spurs to a 92-80 home win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
The Spurs (2-4) made their worst start to a season in 35 years with three straight defeats and lost Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili with ankle injuries but Duncan's performance was enough see off the surprising Knicks (4-3).
"They played hard and they were desperate," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters. "They're a good team and give them credit, but we didn't play well.
"We need to shoot the ball better, move the ball a little better against a team like that."
Michael Finley added 14 points for the Spurs who trailed 41-38 at the half but rallied to shoot 44 percent. Rookie George Hill started in place of Parker and contributed a season-high 12 points.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said his team was going to have to rely on good defense until the two injured players return.
"There's never a reason to play poor defense and that's what was nice to see tonight," Popovich said. "We have some significant players out of the lineup but that only means we need to get efforts from everybody.
"Some players need to see this as an opportunity to get more playing time."
Veteran Bruce Bowen did not start for the first time in 550 games as a Spur despite the absence of Parker and Ginobili.
He came off the bench late in the first quarter and wound up with 13 points but refused to make an issue of not starting.
"Coaches have a reason for doing those things," Bowen said. "It's important for you to have trust in those things that they're trying to get accomplished.
"I'm happy. I enjoy playing the game."
Jamal Crawford scored 28 points and Zach Randolph added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks.
"We've had a good start, but they are going to be tough to play regardless," Crawford said.
"When they have Tim Duncan on the other side it's going to be tough. He has a way of making everybody around him better."