Spurs turn up the defense to beat Bulls

Danny Sanchez, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs had a careless first half of play and trailed at halftime. Then they changed the game the way they do it best, with defense.
Manu Ginobili had 18 points and nine assists to lead the Spurs to a 101-83 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night at AT&T Center.
Ginobili, facilitating the point guard position with Tony Parker out at least a month with an injured ankle, was 7 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 5 from the 3-point line, in 25 minutes.
He led a fourth-quarter spurt that had the Spurs up double digits the whole period. By the time Nando de Colo hit the last bucket, a 17-footer, it gave the Spurs their largest lead at 18 points.
San Antonio clamped down defensively and outscored the Bulls 54-31 after halftime.
"We turned the ball over a lot," Ginobili said. "We gave them easy basket opportunities, offensive rebounds. So we basically gave them everything. In the second half we were a different team offensively. We moved the ball very well. It was a great second half to play."
The Spurs had four other players in double figures, including Kawhi Leonard (14) and Patty Mills (13).
Tim Duncan dropped 18 points with 10 rebounds, while Tiago Splitter added 13 and 10 as San Antonio improved to 48-14. The Spurs are 25-3 at home.
The Spurs shot 54 percent (40-for-74) from the field and 57 percent (8-for-14) from the 3-point line.
They drove the ball inside, outscoring the Bulls 46-22 in the paint.
"That's a championship team right there," Joakim Noah said of the Spurs. "They do all the little things, play together. Defensively everyone's on the same page and they make very (few) mistakes. You've got to give them credit when it's due. They're very good."
Chicago had the game tied at 68 with a minute and a half left in the third quarter, but the Bulls went five minutes before scoring their next bucket.
The Bulls were 13 of 43 in the second half (30 percent) and turned the ball over four times.
"We settled for some poor shots," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Against a team who has the depth that they have, they're going to make you pay."
The Bulls were led by Marco Belinelli's 21 points, while Luol Deng had 19, Marquis Teague 11 and Carlos Boozer 10. Joakim Noah added 13 rebounds as the Bulls dropped to 34-27.
It was San Antonio that was turnover-prone in the first half, committing 10 turnovers that led to 15 Chicago points. The Spurs committed just three turnovers in the second half.
"I was pleased that they scored 31 in the whole second half after we threw the ball all over the gym in the first half," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "I thought defensively we were really on the mark in the second half all the way around."
San Antonio, down by 14 points late in the second quarter, cut the deficit to three, but Belinelli's layup with 36 seconds left gave the Bulls a 52-47 halftime lead.
Belinelli led Chicago with 14 first-half points.
NOTES: Speculation mounts on the return of Derrick Rose to the Bulls' lineup. Rose, who torn his left ACL in a playoff win against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 29, 2012, has been upgraded to day-to-day but did not play Wednesday. ... Rose is joined on the injury report with guard Kirk Hinrich (right foot) and Taj Gibson (sprained left MCL). Richard Hamilton (back) did not travel with the team. ... Parker, who suffered a grade 2 left ankle sprain last Friday, will be sidelined for a month. The Spurs are 4-1 without Parker. ... The Spurs defeated the Bulls 103-89 three weeks ago without Parker, Duncan or Ginobili. ... Wednesday's matchup was one of 15 NBA Noche Latina (Latin Night) games honoring the Hispanic culture. San Antonio wore Los Spurs jerseys, while Chicago donned Los Bulls as part of the Hispanic-themed events for the game. ... A bat entered AT&T Center, but Ginobili, famous for swatting a bat during a game years ago, abstained from doing it again. "I'm never going to touch one again," said Ginobili, who had to take rabies shots after the incident. "I don't think I can do it again. Just 1 for 1 is a great percentage, so I'm going to retire."

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