San Antonio 107, New Jersey 82

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Feb. 13 (AP) -- Beating the New Jersey Nets has never been a problem for the San Antonio Spurs.

With Jason Kidd and two other starters out of the lineup, this time it wasn't even much of a game.

Tim Duncan scored seven of his 21 points in a 20-0 San Antonio spurt to start the second quarter and the Spurs ran away from the injury-ravaged Nets 107-82 on Tuesday night.

"The Nets are in a bad way, injury-wise'' coach Gregg Popovich said after the Spurs beat the Nets for the eighth straight time. "It was a tough night with three of their top four not out there. It was pretty much a throw away game. They battled and did everything they could. It's impossible to be very successful with that many people out.''

The Spurs only needed 18 minutes to take control of the game. They used a 12-4 run at the end of the first quarter to take a four-point lead and then took advantage of 13 straight misses by New Jersey at the start of the second quarter to push the advantage to 24.

"We're trying to get better as a team,'' Duncan said after the Spurs avoided tying their season-high three-game losing streak with their third win in eight games. "Consistency hasn't been there. As fun as it was, that's the way we need to play all the time.''

Tony Parker added 19 points, Manu Ginobili had 14 and Michael Finley 15 for San Antonio, which led by as many as 28 points.

San Antonio has had problems this year against opponents who are missing key players. They lost to the Lakers with Lamar Odom out. They lost twice to Houston, once with Yao Ming out and once with Tracy McGrady sidelined. They also lost to Utah when the Jazz were without Carlos Boozer.

They did not have a similar letdown against New Jersey.

"Not at all,'' Parker said. "We had a lot of letdowns earlier the season. It's about time we kept a lead.''

Vince Carter had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Nets, who also were without center Nenad Krstic and forward Richard Jefferson, who have been injured for a while.

"We have been short-handed for the better part of the year,'' Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We're not going to start making excuses now.''

Rookie Marcus Williams had nine points and a career-high 10 assists starting for Kidd, who will miss final two games before the All-Star break with a lower back strain. His status for the NBA midseason classic on Sunday in Las Vegas is uncertain.

Down 16-12 with less than 5 minutes to play in the first quarter, Ginobili entered the game and got the Spurs going. He scored five points and added two assists, the second on a 3-pointer by Robert Horry that helped San Antonio take a 26-22 lead.

Ginobili started and ended the 20-point run with a jumper and two free throws. Duncan, who added a team-high eight rebounds, took over after that. He converted a three-point play and a layup on consecutive possessions and later added two free throws.

The Nets were lost for the first 6-plus minutes of the quarter. They missed their first 13 shots and didn't score until Carter hit a free throw on a defensive three seconds technical foul, drawing a sarcastic cheer from the crowd at the Continental Airlines Arena.

"We had good shots, they just didn't fall,'' Carter said.

New Jersey, which shot 39 percent from the field, didn't get its first basket until Hassan Adams hit a jumper with 5:20 to go in the quarter. By then, the Spurs had a 21-point lead and New Jersey never got close.

Notes: New Jersey is now 11-25 without Kidd. The last game he missed due to injury late was in 2004. ... Williams made his first career start. ...The biggest cheer from the Nets' crowd came when Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria, Parker's fiancee, was shown sitting at courtside. ...The Spurs are 18-10 on the road, including 3-4 on their current eight-game rodeo road trip. It ends in Detroit on Wednesday.


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