Bench players spark Spurs in win over Bucks

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- When the San Antonio Spurs were looking for a boost in the fourth quarter, they went to their bench. And the bench players came through in the clutch.
"They played great," said Tony Parker said. "(Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) is always trying to do stuff to make sure our bench is performing, and tonight it definitely performed."
Parker poured in 22 points and had 10 assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 110-99 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
But it was the Spurs bench that proved the difference.
Tied at 76-76 going into the fourth quarter, San Antonio went on a 16-2 run to open the quarter.
The Spurs Big Three -- Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili -- watched bench players Matt Bonner, Nando De Colo, James Anderson, Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal on the floor lead them on the improbable run.
Seizing the moment, San Antonio capped the run when with Splitter's layup at 7:56 to put the Spurs on top 92-78, and gave them a comfortable double-digit lead.
"It was our best group all night, on the court," Popovich said. "They were active defensively. They all rebounded. So that group really did a good job at both ends and got the win for us."
Parker's tear drop with five minutes gave them a 17-point lead, their largest of the game, after trailing by as much as eight points in the third quarter.
San Antonio couldn't find an offense rhythm for three quarter, then came alive, hitting 13 of 20 shots (65 percent) in the final quarter.
They out rebounded the Bucks 53-36.
It was a reverse fate for Milwaukee, which seemed to have its momentum cut in the fourth quarter when they made 8 of 22 from the field and 2 of 6 3-pointers.
The Bucks would make a final run when Monta Ellis hit a bucket with 1:30 to cut the lead to nine, 106-97, but could not get any closer.
"Tied up going into the fourth quarter, we certainly didn't get off to a good start with that play," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "They just went on a run and we couldn't get back into the game."
Gary Neal also had 22 points, and Tim Duncan 17 with 10 rebounds. Tiago Splitter added 15 and Manu Ginobili 11. Matt Bonner also grabbed 12 rebounds as San Antonio moved to 15-4.
The Bucks were led by Monta Ellis 21 points and 11 assists. Ersan Ilyasova also scored 17, all in the first half, as the Bucks fell to 8-9.
Marquis Daniels added 12 Brandon Jennings had 14 and Samuel Dalembert scored eight.
However, the Bucks were 24 of 29 from the free-throw line (83 percent).
Behind 55 percent first-half shooting, Milwaukee took a 58-52 halftime lead into the locker room.
San Antonio struggled out of the gate, going 0-for-11 on their first shots of the game. Duncan kept them in the game, scoring 15 points in the first half.
"In the first half, we were sharing the ball more, getting open looks and knocking them down," Ilyasova said. "We kind of started struggling. We could not keep up with it, and that is how we lost the game."
NOTES: Spurs guards Danny Green and Patty Mills sat out because of injuries. Green (sore left hamstring) was averaging 9.8 points per game in the small forward position in the absence of Kawhi Leonard (left knee tendinitis) and Stephen Jackson (broken right finger). Mills, who tweaked his right ankle, has a 4.9-point average through 15 games. ... Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy was scratched from the lineup. He is nursing a bruised left knee. "It was really sore after the game the other night. He couldn't really go in practice," coach Scott Skiles said. Dunleavy, who was hurt in the Bucks' 102-81 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night, is averaging 10.8 points a game. ... San Antonio recalled second-year guard Cory Joseph form the NBA D-League's Austin Toros. ... The Spurs entered the night ranked first in assists in the NBA, averaging 24.3 a game, their highest figure since 1992-93 season.