SAN ANTONIO (AP)—It was back to the bench for Manu Ginobili on Friday.
Ginobili started for the first time this season on Wednesday, when he scored a season-high 37 points as the Spurs eked out a 97-95 win over the rival Dallas Mavericks.
On Friday, he tied that mark after entering the game about halfway into the first quarter.
“I’m surprised by nothing that Manu Ginobili does,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “I just take it for granted that there will be a surprise every game. So I think I need a new word for surprised. He’s just the ultimate competitor.”
The Spurs remained unbeaten at home despite their second straight game without Tim Duncan, who is recovering from a sprained ankle.
“They’re an exceptional team. They know how to close out games, even without Tim,” said Deron Williams, who scored 28 points for the Jazz.
“We’re very glad with this win,” said Ginobili, who picked up 17 of his points at the foul line. “It was very important for us to win again without Tim.”
For most of the game Friday, that looked unlikely.
The Jazz led most of the way and were up by as many as 11 points. But the Spurs inched their way up in the fourth, and took their first lead since the first quarter at 85-84 off Matt Bonner’s jumper with 6:36 to play.
Once they took the lead again off Michael Finley’s 3-pointer with 5:31 to go, it was for good. The Jazz were always lurking and were within one, 99-98, with 19 seconds to play after Williams hit a long 3. But the Spurs’ eight free throws in the final 31 seconds of the game, plus one key basket each from Parker and Ginobili in the last two minutes, gave them the win.
“We take our hats off to them,” Boozer said. “Good thing it’s still early in the season. … We’re in an improving mind-set. We’re going to continue to improve.”
Ginobili had 14 points in the fourth quarter for San Antonio. Williams had 15 in the period for Utah.
Bonner, in his first-ever start for the Spurs, scored 13 points.
“I was nervous, to be honest with you,” Bonner said. “I played as hard as I could. I gave 100 percent effort. That’s the only thing I could control.”
The Jazz surged to an 11-point lead in the first quarter off Williams’ 11 points and Utah shot 70 percent from the field in the period.
Meanwhile, Parker had trouble with his shot early, and as a result only took one in the entire second quarter. The Jazz went up by as many as 10 in the period, and it was only Ginobili’s 14 second-quarter points that kept the Spurs in it. His jumper closed a 15-5 Spurs run and tied the game at 45 with 2:26 to play in the half.
The Spurs tied the game four times in the third but couldn’t get a defensive stop to take the lead. Boozer scored 10 points in the period, as many as Parker had in the first three quarters.
With no Duncan in the post to stop them, the Jazz built a 50-18 advantage in the paint after three quarters. C.J. Miles dunked so hard with 1:04 left in the period that he nearly fell over upon landing, and Boozer converted Jason Hart’s steal into a jumper to put Utah up 76-71 with eight seconds on the clock. The Jazz headed into the final 12 minutes up 76-72.
Both coaches wore microphones as part of a new NBA program for certain nationally televised games that allows listening devices on the court, in-game sideline interviews with coaches and cameras in the locker rooms during pregame and halftime chats. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said he’d try to tone it down for TV: “I’ve never been accused of having a lot of good language.” … Duncan was on the sidelines wearing a black T-shirt, a suit jacket and jeans. … The Spurs were 30-of-38 from the foul line. … The Jazz finished with a 54-20 advantage in the paint.