Parker leads injury-depleted Spurs in rout of Bobcats

Danny Sanchez, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- In the last week, the San Antonio Spurs have battled through injuries and illness up and down the lineup. Through it all, Tony Parker has carried the team on his shoulders, and he did it again Wednesday.
Parker led San Antonio with 22 points and seven assists as the Spurs notched their 17th straight home win, defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 102-78.
The 11-year veteran, named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday, was 9 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from the free throw line as San Antonio got its ninth straight win.
The 17-game home winning streak is second only to the franchise-record 22-game streak compiled in 2011.
"He's just been great," said Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard of Parker. "He's been doing it all season and did it last year. He's been stepping up when we really need him. Tim (Duncan) is out, so he's coming in and scoring the ball more."
San Antonio led the game from the tip-off and stretched a two-point advantage at the end of the first quarter to the final margin of 24 when Patty Mills hit a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in the game.
"They took care of business," said Charlotte guard Ben Gordon of the Spurs' second-half burst. "In the second half they just put us away. They capitalized on all of our mistakes."
The Spurs had three other players score in double figures. Leonard had 18, Danny Green 17 and Tiago Splitter 15 as San Antonio improved to an NBA-best 37-11.
Recently signed Aron Baynes, playing while Duncan, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair all sat with injuries, had nine rebounds in 17 minutes.
"Everybody made an effort to help out," said Parker on the big men's effort to pick up the slack. "Tiago (Splitter) and Baynes, he was great too tonight. It's not easy to come in the middle of the season. We're rolling, playing good. He came out and played with a lot of energy."
The Bobcats, who have lost 10 of their last 12 games, were led by Ramon Sessions, who had 20 points off the bench.
Kemba Walker added 16 and Ben Gordon 11 as Charlotte dropped to 11-34.
Charlotte has not fared well against San Antonio, coming in losing five straight to the Spurs, the last two by a combined 54 points.
This game was on par as Charlotte was plagued turnovers, giving it up 24 times for 34 Spurs points.
"What happened at the beginning, middle and the end of the start (first quarter) were our turnovers," said Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap of the team's sloppy play. "They scored 34-38 points (34 points) on our turnovers. After that you can slice the game up on the road, if you're going to turn it over 23 times."
San Antonio almost equaled Charlotte with 23 turnover (for 23 Bobcats points), but the Spurs were sharp from the field, hitting 55 percent for the game.
They also poured it in from the 3-point line, hitting 9 of 16 (56 percent).
The Spurs used a 10-point spurt to end the first half up 49-37. Leonard had 13 points at halftime, while Sessions had 10 at the half for Charlotte.
San Antonio has an NBA-best 21-2 home record with one more home game on Saturday before heading out on its annual rodeo road trip. The nine-game trip, wrapping around the All-Star Game, will stretch through February.
NOTES: San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich returned to the sidelines after sitting out three games because of an illness. Assistant coach Mike Budenholzer went 3-0 in his absence and the Spurs are on a nine-game win streak. In fact, the Spurs have done so well that with the next victory, Popovich could clinch a spot to coach the Western Conference All-Stars. ... The Spurs and Bobcats are on opposite ends of the standings. San Antonio's 37-11 record is best in the NBA, while Charlotte's 11-34 is the worst. ... The NBA announced Spurs forward Leonard is one of 18 players selected to participate in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, held on the Friday of All-Star weekend. ... The Spurs' big men continue to battle injuries. Along with Duncan (sore left knee), who has missed four games, Blair (right knee effusion) and Bonner (right knee effusion) were scratched from the game. ... Charlotte's Walker has scored in double figures 16 straight games, the longest streak since current Spurs forward Stephen Jackson's 27 games.

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