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Tim Duncan posted 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs avoided their first five-game losing streak since the 1996-97 season -- the one before Duncan's rookie year.
San Antonio 102, Chicago 80
CHICAGO, March 20 (AP) -- No way Tim Duncan was going to endure a five-game losing streak for the first time in his NBA career.
Duncan was too steady and strong on the inside, and Tony Parker darted through and around Chicago's defense Thursday night as the San Antonio Spurs routed the Bulls 102-80 to stop their losing skid at four games.
"It was just a bad stretch for us and this is a step in the right direction," Duncan said after his 22-point, 10-rebound effort combined with 23 points from Parker spurred the easy victory.
The defending NBA champs avoided their first five-game losing streak since the 1996-97 season -- the one before Duncan's rookie year. And they had such an easy time of it that Duncan and Parker were able to rest in the fourth quarter.
"Luckily enough we have a game tomorrow so we didn't have to go back into the game in the fourth quarter," Duncan said.
"We just did not have our enthusiasm the way it needed to be," Bulls coach Jim Boylan said after a disappointing performance produced boos at the United Center.
"I have to be honest and say I did not have us ready to play. I will shoulder that responsibility."
Parker had 10 points in the second quarter when San Antonio took control.
His quickness combined with Duncan's steady play on the inside and strong defense sent the Spurs on a 22-4 run that opened up a 53-33 lead late in the half. The Bulls shot only 6-for-17 in the second quarter while the Spurs were 13-for-22 to lead 55-37 at the half as Duncan scored 15 and Parker 14.
"It's all about getting a rhythm going right now," Duncan said. "We lose a couple games in a row and your confidence is low. Then somebody jumps on you and you're starting to doubt yourself a little bit. It's good to see a couple of shots go down, and defensively we were pretty solid."
The last three losses during San Antonio's four-game slump were by a total of 13 points, but Thursday night it wasn't close after the second quarter.
"We had a good winning streak and then we had a tough period," Parker said. "It happens, that's basketball. We've been winning for a long time. Sometimes you can't win every game."
Parker continued to race through the Bulls' defense in the third quarter and when the lead reached 74-47, boos poured out from the United Center.
Trailing by as many as 28, the Bulls staged a mini-rally to get within 19, but the Spurs got a 3-pointer from Ime Udoka for an 86-64 lead after three.
Bruce Bowen's 3-pointer starting the fourth brought it back to 25 and moments later the boos started anew.
Chicago shot just 38 percent and had 16 turnovers in the miserable performance.
"We've been inconsistent all year. I can't say I'm surprised by the effort tonight," Chicago's Ben Gordon said.
Notes: Noting the balance of the Western Conference, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game: "We're two game out of first and we're two games out of eighth.'' With the conference so close, he predicted that home-court advantage would not be as big a factor in the playoffs. "The first seed could be the eighth and the eighth seed is as good as the first and that's no exaggeration,'' he said. "None of us is better than the other. So the seeds are really irrelevant this season more than any other time.'' ...The Bulls played without starting guard Kirk Hinrich, who sprained his right ankle two nights ago against the Nets. ... Duncan shot 9-for-14 from the field.