CHICAGO - Being shorthanded means little to San Antonio. Playing without their three leading scorers, the Spurs knocked off the Chicago Bulls 103-89 at the United Center on Monday.
Kawhi Leonard had a big night, scoring a career-high 26 points, hitting 11-of-18 shots from the field. Danny Green added 18 points, while Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal scored 16 each.
The Spurs played without Tony Parker (sore right knee), Tim Duncan (sore left knee) and Manu Ginobili (tight left hamstring). Like the Bulls, though, San Antonio doesn't accept excuses. Chicago sits in fourth place in the East, despite being without Derrick Rose all season.
The Spurs were also playing the second leg of back-to-back games, while the Bulls had two days off after finishing a six-game road trip in Utah on Friday. San Antonio beat Brooklyn on Sunday, with Parker but without Duncan and Ginobili, and has now won 13 of its last 14 games.
It looked as though the Bulls would catch San Antonio from behind, rallying from 14 points down in the third quarter to pull within 76-75 on a Taj Gibson dunk just over two minutes into the fourth quarter.
That's when the Spurs went to work on both ends of the floor. They scored on their next six possessions by playing smart. They moved the ball, drew fouls and forced turnovers. Leonard's fast-break dunk with 5:54 remaining sent the visitors ahead 89-78.
The Bulls finished with 19 turnovers, which led to 29 San Antonio points. Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 20 points, Richard Hamilton added 16 and Carlos Boozer scored 14.
Chicago center Joakim Noah played his third game after missing three with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He doesn't seem restricted at all, playing 38 minutes Monday and finishing with 15 rebounds. The Bulls rolled up a 49-26 rebounding edge as a team.
Chicago led 27-20 early in the second quarter, but the Spurs turned the tables with a 18-5 run. In the third quarter, San Antonio knocked down 5 of 6 shots from 3-point range to build a 14-point lead on three occasions.
NOTES: It was no surprise that Duncan and Ginobili didn't play Monday for San Antonio. But the absence of point guard Parker was unexpected. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game that Parker's right knee swelled up overnight after bothering him during Sunday's win in Brooklyn. Duncan has missed eight of the last nine games, and Ginobili has sat out five straight. ... San Antonio forward Stephen Jackson missed the game because of personal reasons. ... Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich missed his sixth straight game with a right elbow injury. ... There is still no word on when Rose, recovering from left knee surgery, will be ready for game action. "We're not going to say, 'It's going to be this day,'" coach Tom Thibodeau said Sunday. "When he's ready, he'll go." ... Popovich on whether Parker, Duncan or Ginobili might play Wednesday in Cleveland, the Spurs' final game before the all-star break: "That's so far into the future. How in the world do you expect (an answer)?"