Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 2/8

Game 1: Tuesday, February 8th
Game 2: Friday, March 18th

Spurs 104

(39-10, 16-9 away)

Bobcats 85

(10-35, 8-14 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:00 PM ET, February 8, 2005

    Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 29 23 26 26104
    CHA 17 17 21 3085

    Top Performers

    SA: T. Parker 20 Pts, 6 Reb, 6 Ast, 4 Stl

    Cha: J. Kapono 17 Pts, 1 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    Nesterovic fills in, scores 15 points in 22 minutes

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Rasho Nesterovic has successfully stepped in for Tim Duncan before. The San Antonio Spurs are hoping he can do it again.

    Nesterovic returned to the starting lineup the same day Duncan went out with a sprained ankle, giving the Spurs a big lift with 15 points and eight rebounds in San Antonio's 104-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.

    When Duncan missed six straight games last season, Nesterovic reached double figures in points and rebounds every night.

    "He did a good job tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If he could average a double-double like he did while Tim was out last year, that would be great for us."

    Duncan missed his first game of the season and won't play Wednesday night in Washington. Nesterovic was coming off his own ankle injury that sidelined him for six games.

    Needing a big body, the Spurs activated him before the start of the game, and Nesterovic opened it by making his first seven shots.

    "After six games sitting on the bench, you get really bored," Nesterovic said. "My shots were really falling in and it got us off to a good start."

    He finished 7-of-9 from the floor against an undermanned Charlotte team that struggled to defend him the entire 22 minutes he played.

    "Rasho was on fire for us," said Tony Parker, who had 20 points. "He played very good for us, especially early."

    Manu Ginobili had 12 and Bruce Bowen added 10 for the Spurs, who improved to an NBA-best 39-10.

    San Antonio started Tony Massenburg in place of Duncan, and he hardly filled the All-Star's shoes. Massenburg finished with one point, going 0-for-4 with three rebounds.

    But it didn't matter against the Bobcats, who narrowly missed their worst defeat of the season.

    "We caught them on a day where everything was clicking," said Melvin Ely, who finished with 12 points. "They did what they were supposed to do. That's what great teams do, especially without their leader."

    Jason Kapono led Charlotte with 17 points off the bench. Primoz Brezec had 14 as the Bobcats fell behind early and almost had their worst loss of the season. Trailing by 27 in the second half -- and threatening to supplant their 113-90 defeat at Miami on Jan. 1 -- the Bobcats only made it respectable when the Spurs benched the majority of their starters.

    Short on bodies -- star rookie Emeka Okafor is on the injured list, center Jamal Sampson was waived prior to the game and two others didn't dress because of injuries, the Bobcats had just eight players after guard Keith Bogans left with an ankle sprain near the end of the first half.

    "That's about as good as we are with that group," coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "Even though Tim Duncan was missing, that's still a 50-win basketball team."

    San Antonio built a 52-34 halftime lead behind 51 percent shooting, while Charlotte struggled offensively in making just 13 of 44 shots.

    The Spurs continued to roll in the second half, stretching their lead to 76-49 on Brent Barry's 3-pointer late in the third quarter before they benched the bulk of their starters.

    Although the Bobcats were able to chip away at the deficit, they were hardly inspiring and few fans stayed around to see them trim it to 83-69. The front row, usually packed with Charlotte-area celebrities, had 13 consecutive empty seats glaringly empty at midcourt for most of the fourth quarter.

    Game notes

    To make room for Nesterovic on the roster, the Spurs placed guard Mike Wilks on the injured list with tendinitis. ... Okafor is due to come off the injured list after Wednesday night's game in Indiana, but the Bobcats aren't sure his sprained ankle will be healed enough for him to play. ... Carolina Panthers coach John Fox made his first appearance at a Bobcats game this season, sitting courtside next to NASCAR star Jeff Gordon.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 104 85
    FGM-FGA 38-80 (.475) 32-85 (.376)
    3PM-3PA 7-15 (.467) 4-9 (.444)
    FTM-FTA 21-31 (.677) 17-22 (.773)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-49 12-38
    Assists 20 23
    Turnovers 15 17
    Steals 13 11
    Blocks 4 7
    Fast Break Points 17 20
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (1/0) 21 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 27 0

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    Tony Parker Parker
    Points: 20
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Jason Kapono Kapono
    Points: 17
    Reb: 1
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0