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Spurs handle road-weary Sixers

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- The Spurs looked like a team that just got a break. The Sixers looked like a team that needed one.

Finishing a grueling eight-game road trip, including four games in the last five nights, the road-weary Sixers lost to the Spurs 109-86 on Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs were coming off a similarly difficult period, playing the same four-in-five-nights kind of stretch, but they went 3-1. They predictably lost in the final game of that endurance test on Thursday night to the Knicks in New York.

But at least they were coming off a day off yesterday. The Sixers were coming off a thrashing by Oklahoma City.

The Sixers can thank Mickey Mouse for the rough road stretch. Disney On Ice is occupying Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center and has left the Sixers to fend for themselves on the road.

"I didn't know they were out on the road that long," Spurs center Tim Duncan said. "I know they're just dying to get home. Usually that last game of that trip is usually where you try to give it your all."

The Sixers finally ended the long roadie, which was not kind. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich quipped before the game: "(Philadelphia) doesn't have a rodeo, do they?" He was referring to the Spurs' famous spring road trip while the rodeo is in town.

Tony Parker scored 20 points, Manu Ginobili added 19 and Duncan had 16 for the Spurs, who have won eight of their last nine games.

The Sixers are headed in the opposite direction, losing five of their last six.

Nick Young hit the first shot of the game and Philadelphia led 2-0. The Sixers never led again.

"This (game) would have been a tall order if we had eight days rest," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "This team is as good as any team in the NBA."

Ginobili has had an up-and-down season for the Spurs, and this was an up game. He got started quickly with 10 first-quarter points, including two 3-pointers.

He also added a flash of finesse and power late in the first quarter, crossing over Evan Turner by the three-point line and dunking over flat-footed Kwame Brown. Ginobili later fed Tiago Splitter for a layup and foul on a pass between the legs of Thaddeus Young.

"Yeah, (Manu) was great to see," Popovich said. "He's had to slowly get back his athleticism. His confidence is always there because he's such an experienced guy. But his body has caught up and he looks as good as he's looked in a while. He's definitely back."

Ginobili, who added seven rebounds and four assists, said of his dunk: "I just do that every once in a while. I don't want to get too confident that I'm going to do that too often."

Spencer Hawes led Philly with 22 points off the bench. Jrue Holiday 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists but hit only 5 of 15 shots from the field.

Philadelphia shot only 41.7 percent from the floor. The Spurs shot 48.2 percent and outrebounded the Sixers 50-41.

NOTES: In the third quarter, Duncan overtook Adrian Dantley for 24th on the NBA career scoring list. ... Spurs G/F Stephen Jackson was ruled out with an ankle he sprained when he ran into a waitress in Thursday's game in New York. He'll probably miss one more game. "It's maddening," Popovich said before the game, referring to the tight setup of NBA arenas. "It's an accident waiting to happen." He added: "It was a mayoral mishap," Which was a smug reference to the fact that the waitress was serving New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the time. ... The Sixers ended the eight-game road trip with a 2-6 record. "I feel for our guys," Collins said. "It's been a brutal trip."
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