Spurs regroup in 104-85 win over Bobcats
SAN ANTONIO -- Everyone knew it would take some time for the new faces on the Spurs to fit in. Forget the new faces, for now, because maybe the guys in the established "Big Three" are fitting in.
Manu Ginobili looked like his old self on Friday, darting through the lane and stepping back for threes to score 22 points. Tim Duncan got isolated on the block for 17. And Tony Parker, though he was a dud in scoring until seven clutch points in a four-minute stretch of the fourth quarter, contributed 10 assists on a night when the Spurs shot a season-best 59 percent in a 104-85 victory over the Bobcats at AT&T Center.
"A lot of guys played well," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Manu had one of his better games. He was really in control and let the game come to him."
After the Spurs allowed a 22-point lead to be trimmed to one heading into the fourth quarter, San Antonio started dumping the ball inside to Duncan. He hit three of his five shots and had four assists as the Spurs went on a 20-6 run to go up by 15 with just less than four minutes remaining.
"That's usually what your best players do," Popovich said. "They're the ones that, in the end, win it or lose it. They have the kind of character that doesn't frighten them or they don't step back from it. They want to be in those positions, and Timmy did a good job in that regard."
San Antonio (11-9) now heads out for a three-game road trip starting Sunday against the Clippers. It's the Spurs' longest trip so far this season, and they've won just once in six tries away from home.
Ginobili, who had a season-high 36 points last month on a night when both Duncan and Parker missed because of injury, scored 20 points in 15 first-half minutes.
Behind Ginobili, the Spurs led 65-43 less than two minutes into the third quarter. But that's when the turnover goo the Spurs have been stepping in recently once again plopped in front of them against the Bobcats. Less than a week after the Spurs turned in their second-straight season-high with 19 turnovers in a home loss to Denver, San Antonio surpassed that with just less than four minutes left in the third quarter. The Spurs finished with 28.
While those 19-turnover games led to home losses against Boston and Denver, the road-troubled Bobcats couldn't capitalize. Charlotte (9-12) has lost nine of 10 away from home.
They couldn't stop Duncan in the fourth quarter when the Spurs went to him five times in six offensive sets to start the final period. They scored each time, and San Antonio outscored Charlotte 32-14 in the fourth.
"We just ran out of gas, "Bobcats coach Larry Brown said.
San Antonio still committed three more turnovers than the Bobcats in the fourth quarter. But the Spurs executed well enough to not let the mistakes cost them -- they hit 12 of 17 shots in the fourth. Even after committing 13 turnovers in the first half, the Spurs still shot 61 percent from the floor, including 7-for-9 from 3-point territory.
The Bobcats allow the fewest points in the league and are fourth-best in opponent field-goal percentage.
The only time the turnovers fouled up the Spurs came in the third. They coughed it up 10 times and watched the Bobcats score 14 points off of them.
"I am concerned about the turnovers and our inability to take care of the ball," Duncan said. "I thought we had learned from it, but it's an ongoing process. Thankfully, it didn't kill us tonight."
That big lead with 10:08 left in the third would have vanished into a one-point Charlotte lead if Bobcats point guard Raymond Felton had not been called for charging on a fast break opportunity. He made the layup, but it was disallowed with two seconds left.
That was just about as good a shot as the Bobcats would get the rest of the night. They shot 6-for-21 in the fourth quarter after that huge rally.
"We used so much energy to get back into the game," said Stephen Jackson, who was on the floor for 45 minutes and took 22 shots to get 23 points.
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