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02/12/2013 12:56 AM EST
Short-handed Spurs beat Bulls 103-89
SAN ANTONIO 103, CHICAGO 89

By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Tim Duncan was dressed in street clothes, with
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili joining him on the bench. San
Antonio's three biggest stars got up occasionally to cheer on
their teammates, but that was the extent of their contribution
on Monday.



On this night, the NBA-best Spurs did just fine without them.



Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 26 points and Danny Green scored
18, leading short-handed San Antonio to an impressive 103-89
victory against the Chicago Bulls.



"One would hope that you could play with anybody in your system,
but it was a tough challenge for them tonight," Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "And I couldn't be more proud of what they
did."



Parker, Duncan and Ginobili were all out with injuries, and
swingman Stephen Jackson also missed the game due to "personal
business," according to the team. With Duncan on the sideline,
the Spurs were outrebounded 49-26, including a whopping 17-2
deficit on the offensive glass.



And San Antonio still managed to win, due in large part to 19
Chicago turnovers that the Spurs turned into 29 points.



"The approach is still the same, you know, every game," Green
said. "It starts with Pop. He does a great job of preparing us,
tells us what we need to do. We listen to him."



Nate Robinson scored 20 points and Richard Hamilton had 16 for
the Bulls, who were coming off a 3-3 road trip - their longest
of the season. Carlos Boozer added 14 points and All-Star Joakim
Noah pulled down 15 rebounds despite a nagging right foot
injury.



"When you outrebound somebody like we did and to be in the
position we were in, we beat ourselves," Bulls coach Tom
Thibodeau said, lamenting all the turnovers. "They are terrific.
They are going to make you pay for your mistakes."



San Antonio led by 14 at three different points in the third
quarter, but Robinson led the Bulls right back. The streaky
point guard converted a twisting reverse layup to trim the
Spurs' lead to 73-69 with 56 seconds left in the period.



Chicago pulled within one in the fourth before the Spurs began
to pull away. Boris Diaw had a three-point play and Leonard
converted a layup in a 7-0 surge that made it 89-78 with 5:55 to
go.



Parker had 29 points and 11 assists in the Spurs' 111-86 victory
at Brooklyn on Sunday night, but Popovich said his star's right
knee became swollen during the game. Parker is having an
MVP-type of season, averaging 20.7 points and 7.7 assists per
game.



Duncan missed his fourth straight game due to a sore left knee.
Ginobili was out for the fifth consecutive game with tightness
in his left hamstring.



"For sure it was a great win for us," said center Tiago
Splitter, who had 16 points in 33 minutes despite an awkward
fall in the first quarter. "We hope all the guys get better and
healthy again soon and ready to help us."



The injuries for All-Stars Parker and Duncan, plus key scorer
Ginobili, meant San Antonio's three best players were reduced to
a cheerleading role for the night, and their teammates gave them
plenty of reasons to stand and applaud.



Gary Neal also had 16 points for San Antonio (41-12), which
improved the league's best road record to 19-10. Nando De Colo,
subbing for Parker, had nine points and seven assists in his
second career start.



Luol Deng finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago
(30-21), which dropped to 15-12 at home this season.



"We didn't make shots down the stretch and we couldn't get stops
for some reason," Robinson said. "They have the best record in
the NBA for a reason."



NOTES: Thibodeau said he thinks G Kirk Hinrich (right elbow)
will travel with the team to Boston for Wednesday's game against
the Celtics. Hinrich hasn't appeared in a game since Jan. 30 at
Milwaukee. ... Splitter had a big bag of ice on his left ankle
after the game. "It's painful right now, but we'll see tomorrow
how it feels," he said. ... Deng addressed the crowd before the
game and said he is looking forward to representing the Bulls at
Sunday's All-Star game in Houston. ... Diaw and Splitter are the
only players to appear in all 53 games for the Spurs this
season.



---



Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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