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Short-handed Spurs don't miss a beat, beat Hornets

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- Going into Wednesday night's game, the Spurs learned that they would not only be without Tim Duncan, but head coach Gregg Popovich, too.

So they turned to Tony Parker to carry them to victory.

Parker had 24 points and 13 assists and led a fourth-quarter comeback that lifted the San Antonio Spurs to a 106-102 win over the New Orleans Hornets at the AT&T Center.

Parker had nine points in the fourth quarter as San Antonio earned its 14th straight win at home and improved to an NBA-best 19-2 on its home court.

"It's huge. A great win," said Parker of the Spurs fourth straight win. "It makes it worth our road trip because we had two big wins in Atlanta and Philly. It's always tough when you come back home to win that game."

The steak was in jeopardy when Greivis Vasquez hit a 3-pointer, giving New Orleans a one-point lead with six minutes left.

Then San Antonio went on an 18-6 run to take the lead. Manu Ginobili, who missed the last four games with a pulled hamstring, capped the run when he hit jumper with a minute left to make the score 103-92.

New Orleans made a furious comeback in the last minute to cut the deficit to three, 103-100, on a Xavier Henry put back with 24 seconds.

But Ginobili secured the victory, hitting three of the last four free throws in the game.

The free throws were clutch as the Spurs struggled at the free-throw line, making only 12 of 23 (52 percent).

"They were able to get past us. That affected us," Vasquez said. "We could not outscore them. In the end they had us beat. This loss really hurts because we gave it away."

Besides Duncan and Popovich missing the game, the Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard (left patella contusion.

San Antonio struggled on the boards, getting outrebounded by New Orleans 46-39.

Tiago Splitter picked up the slack on the offensive end by tying a career high with 25 points on shooting 10 for 11 from the field.

Stephen Jackson had 15 points and Danny Green 12 as San Antonio improved its record to 34-11.

The Spurs attacked the basket and got 66 points in the paint, 36 of those coming in the second half.

"(New Orleans) saw Tim was out and they went for the kill," Jackson said. "They came out and shot over 60 percent in the first half. Our defense was nowhere close to how we play. We were able to buckle down in the second half, made some shots and Tony (Parker) just brought us home."

The Hornets were led by Eric Gordon, who had 17 points, all in the first half.

"I just didn't get the ball in the basket. I had it flowing," Gordon said. "I had a good start in the first half. The second half, there is not much to say."

Ryan Anderson added 16, Jason Smith 13 and Brian Roberts 10 as the Hornets dropped to 14-28.

Vasquez also had 15 points and dished out 11 assists.

New Orleans took a 64-60 halftime lead by shooting 64 percent from the field. Gordon was 5-for-6 from the field and 3-of-3 from the 3-point line, while Vasquez had 10 assists.

The 64 points was a season high by a Spurs opponent this season.

NOTES: With Popovich out because of illness, assistant coach Mike Budenholzer took his place on the sidelines. Popovich attended Wednesday morning's shoot around but was not feeling well. Budenholzer was told 30 minutes before pregame media availability that he would coach. Popovich's advice to Budenholzer, "Have fun. You'll either win or lose." ... The Hornets defeated the Spurs 95-88 on Jan. 7th, snapping a six game losing streak. ... New Orleans' bench outscored San Antonio's 46-30 ... The Spurs also announced the signing of Aron Baynes, a 6-foot-10 center born in Gisborne, New Zealand. Baynes played his college ball at Washington State and has played professionally in Lithuanian, Germany and most recently for Union Olimpija of the Solvenian Basketball League where he averaged 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

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