San Antonio 98, New Orleans 89

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 23 (AP) -- Manu Ginobili may not have made the All-Star roster this year, but his coach sure thinks he's playing like one.

Ginobili scored 30 points and had a career-high 12 assists Saturday against the New Orleans Hornets to help the Spurs withstand a late run for a 98-89 victory and their fifth straight win.

"Obviously, Manu has been on fire here for quite a while playing All-Star basketball,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Including Saturday's outburst, Ginobili has averaged 34.4 points in his last five games.

"Manu is one of the great players in the game,'' veteran Robert Horry said. "He definitely better be player of the month in my eyes. He's been playing fantastic. Without him, I think we would be losing five or six games in a row.''

Tim Duncan added 25 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which is tied with the Hornets atop the Southwest Division with a 37-17 record.

Chris Paul had 27 points and David West 16 for the Hornets, who have lost two in a row.

"We knew this was going to be a tough stretch out of the All-Star break, but I liked the energy we came out with against Dallas,'' West said. "Then we weren't able to do that tonight. We couldn't do that last night.''

The Hornets beat Dallas on Wednesday, but lost by 20 points to the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Down by 17 with 1:26 to play in the third, Paul and Jannero Pargo led a 19-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters to tie it at 78 with 7:05 remaining.

During the run, the Spurs didn't hit a shot from the field for 8 1/2 minutes. Their only scoring during the span came from six free throws.

But the Spurs weren't about to suffer a repeat of late January, when the Hornets routed them 102-78. In this one, the Hornets never took the lead after losing it midway through the first quarter.

"It was a very important win for us, especially with the way they handled us'' last time, Ginobili said.

Back-to-back 3s from Bruce Bowen and Ginobili gave the Spurs a 10-point lead, 94-84, with just over two minutes to play, and the Hornets didn't threaten after that.

"We fought back in the second half and tried to sneak away with a win,'' said Paul. "It got to the point to where we couldn't even touch them.''

The Spurs sank all 17 of their free throws, hitting 100 percent from the foul line for the first time since April 2005.

New Hornets guard Mike James played almost 16 minutes and scored five points and new swingman Bonzi Wells played more than 19 minutes and scored two points.

The two were acquired in a deal Thursday before the trading deadline that sent Bobby Jackson to the Rockets.

Peja Stojakovic scored 11 points for New Orleans, and Tyson Chandler grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Spurs tore away in the second quarter and were up 50-35 at halftime.

Duncan scored seven points in that last 4 1/2 minutes, including an emphatic putback dunk after Ginobili's running jumper missed that put San Antonio up 47-35.

New Orleans shot just 14-of-42 from the field in the first half and hit only five shots in the second quarter.

"Against the champions you cannot play just two solid quarters of basketball. You've got to play four solid quarters,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

Ginobili's 14 third-quarter points, including three 3s, and a dunk that showed the aging Horry can still jump, put the Spurs up by as many as 17 late in the period before the Hornets started their burst.

Notes: The teams will meet once more this season when New Orleans hosts the Spurs on March 12. The Spurs lead the season series 2-1. ... New Spurs C-F Kurt Thomas, acquired from Seattle on Wednesday for Brent Barry, Francisco Elson and a 2009 first-round pick, was in uniform Saturday but didn't play. Thomas said: "I knew ... there was a possibility that come the trade deadline I might be moved. I was completely taken by surprise (that it was San Antonio). Definitely excited.'' ... The Spurs outrebounded the Hornets 43-35 and had a 42-30 advantage in the paint.

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