Spurs win without ParkerBy The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Mon, Feb 25, 2013 12:00 AM EST
PHOENIX - For the San Antonio Spurs, a very long road trip ended with a satisfied smile. For the Phoenix Suns, a very long season drags on. Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard led six Spurs in double figures with 16 points each, and San Antonio shook off the loss of All-Star guard Tony Parker to beat the Suns 97-87 Sunday night. Tiago Splitter added 14 points and Boris Diaw and Manu Ginobili had 12 each for San Antonio, which has beaten the Suns six straight times and nine times of the last 10 meetings. The Spurs finished their annual nine-game "rodeo" road trip at 7-2 and come home with the NBA's best record (45-13) and best road record (23-11). The Spurs bench scored the first 14 points of the second quarter, which was part of a 25-4 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 19-point lead. "We know we have a deep team and even with Tony out and Jack (Stephen Jackson) not playing much, we have a lot of guys contributing and we know we can use them," Ginobili said. "If you asked us before this road trip (if I would take) 7-2, yeah, I would have signed. We lost a tough one in Golden State in overtime, but you're not going to win every single game. Going 7-2 is as good as it gets." Mills enjoys playing in Phoenix. He started in place of Parker in Phoenix last April 27 and scored a then-career-high 27 points in a San Antonio win. "I'd forgotten that game - it was Steve Nash's last game in Phoenix - but when guys step down with injury or resting, everyone is ready to step up and fill the shoes and everyone in this room has done it." Now the Spurs go home, where they have won 22 of 24 games this season. "It'll be great to get back home. We've been away too long, especially for me," said Spurs center Tim Duncan, who spent All-Star Weekend in Houston while many of his teammates took a six-day break. "I've gone an entire month. It will be good to have some home games, get re-acclimated and hopefully rack up some home wins." Parker missed his fourth game of the season with a right triceps contusion, and Gary Neal also sat out with a tight left calf. But the rest of the Spurs had little trouble handing the Suns their 31st loss in their last 42 games. Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, while Goran Dragic added 10 points and 11 assists -- his career-best fourth consecutive game with 10 or more assists. But the Suns haven't cracked 90 points in three straight home games and continue to struggle on both ends of the floor. "We have not been in a good offensive rhythm in a while," Suns forward Jared Dudley said. "I don't know if it is because our defense is affecting our offense or offense affecting the defense, but we need to work on both. If you can't score 90 points, it's going to be tough for you to win in this league." The Suns fell behind 13-0 in Friday's 113-88 blowout loss to Boston but had a better start this time. Gortat had eight points and Dragic six assists as Phoenix took a 21-19 lead into the second quarter. Then the Spurs took over. They forced five Phoenix turnovers and three missed shots on one end in the first three minutes of the second quarter, and a three-pointer by Jackson capped a run of 14 straight San Antonio points to give the Spurs a 33-21 lead. With 4:43 left in the quarter, Splitter completed a four-point play to give the Spurs 25 points in the quarter -- to match the 25 the Suns had in the game to that point -- and a 44-25 lead. "Any time you are playing a championship-caliber team that knows how to play and knows how to win ... when you take one thing away, they have second and third options," Dudley said of the Spurs. "They moved the ball and are very unselfish. You want to play like them in how they move the ball and share it." NOTES: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he wishes Parker would have told him he was hurting during Friday's 107-101 overtime loss at Golden State. He wound up playing 40 minutes. "That was a little too much hero play," Popovich said. "He wasn't really forthcoming. We didn't realize until about halfway through the game when he didn't shoot any shots. Then we find out about his elbow. I wish I would have sat him in that game, but that's why we're definitely sitting him tonight." ... Once a high-scoring team, Phoenix came into the game having averaged 78.5 points in the last two home games, losses to Oklahoma City and Boston by a combined 53 points.
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