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No stars? No problem as Spurs pull away from Magic

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- With a litany of stars sitting out for both teams, Danny Green and Gary Neal supplied San Antonio with a combined for 36 points, leading the Spurs to a 98-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at AT&T Center.

Green led San Antonio (56-19) with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Neal added 16 points, shooting 4 for 8 on 3-pointers, and he added eight rebounds.

Spurs starters Tony Parker (sore left ankle) and Kawhi Leonard (sore left knee) sat out. Tim Duncan played a modest 13 minutes in anticipation of a big game Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Parker and Leonard are expected to play tomorrow.

"It's always good to get the win," Green said. "Second of all, the rest will hopefully help the team come tomorrow. Guys are a little sore and banged up a little bit, so hopefully we'll come out fresh tomorrow."

Jameer Nelson, the Magic's second-leading scorer and starting point guard, was hoping to return from a sprained right ankle, but he didn't play.

The Spurs used a three-man rotation to replace Parker. Nando De Colo started, and scored eight points and dished out six assists. He rotated minutes with Patty Mills (seven points) and Cory Joseph (eight points).

"They all played hard," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought (Joseph) did a great job of catching and penetrating and creating problems. Nando kept us together pretty well. Patty Mills had a tough night shooting (3 of 11) but his hustle is infectious."

The Magic hung around for most of the game, but the Spurs used an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull away. Green hit a pair of 3-pointers in the run and little-used Australian center Aron Baynes added four points in that stretch. Baynes, a rookie, has been splitting his time with the Spurs and the D-League Austin Toros.

The victory was a welcome one for the Spurs, who had dropped their previous two games to the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies by a combined three points. San Antonio pushed its lead back up to 1 1/2 games over the idle Thunder for the top spot in the Western Conference.

Maurice Harkless led Orlando (19-57) with 18 points and nine rebounds, but he made 8 of 21 from the field. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 14 rebounds.

"(The Spurs) were able to capitalize on our lack of small details," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Really good teams like San Antonio put you in a position where you have to do that over and over again."

DeQuan Jones got off to a hot start for Orlando, scoring 12 points in the first half off the bench. In the second half, he missed his only two field goal attempts.

Arron Afflalo, who has a strained hamstring, also was out for Orlando, as was Hedo Turkoglu, who is serving a 20-game suspension after testing positive for steroids.

The Magic are hovering near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, only ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats. The Magic are on pace to break the NBA record for the least free-throw attempts, attempting only an average of 16.4 per game. They went to the line nine times against the Spurs, hitting eight.

San Antonio's Manu Ginobili is also out for three to four weeks with a strained hamstring, and DeJuan Blair also was missing because of a stomach virus.

NOTES: In the teams' first meeting, Nov. 28 in Orlando, Neal contributed 19 points and four rebounds as the Spurs won 110-89. ... The Magic have swept one series against the Spurs, winning both games in 2008-09. ... Vaughn was a backup point guard for the Spurs from 2006 to 2009 and later an assistant coach with the Spurs. ... Parker has scored double figures in a career-high 56 consecutive games. ... Entering the game, the Spurs had played in five consecutive games that were decided by two points or less. The Spurs lost three of those games. ... The Magic have used 24 starting lineups this season, second most in the NBA. ... Former Spurs draft pick Beno Udrih had averaged 18.5 points and nine assists in two previous starts in place of Nelson. Udrih had 14 points and eight assists Wednesday.

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