CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- It was a strange sight: Tim Duncan
Three times he tried to slam it over Emeka Okafor and three
times the ball clanged off the back rim -- all in the first quarter.
But it didn't take long for him to break out of his funk.
Duncan shook off the slow start to score 25 points and the San
Antonio Spurs avenged a surprising home loss to Charlotte with a
96-76 win over the Bobcats on Wednesday.
"It was frustrating. I got everything at the rim that I wanted
but I couldn't finish," Duncan said. "I played through that, was
able to get some touches in the fourth quarter and got those to go
down for me."
Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score 13 points for the
Spurs, who won their third straight game.
As was the case two days earlier, the Spurs got payback for a
loss from earlier in the season. But unlike San Antonio's 40-point
win over Golden State, the Bobcats put up a fight until Brevin
Knight was ejected in the third quarter for picking up two
Charlotte, which won in San Antonio 95-92 in overtime three
weeks ago, led by seven in the first quarter, when Duncan shot
4-for-11. But San Antonio recovered and took an 11-point
Duncan scored 11 points in the fourth, when the Spurs built as
much as a 22-point lead.
"He played it a little differently with Emeka's defense,"
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He started to face him up a
little bit more. He did a much better job at reading the defense."
Sean May scored 18 points, Gerald Wallace had 15 and Raymond
Felton added 13 points and nine assists for the Bobcats, who failed
to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
Rookie Adam Morrison continued to struggle, scoring four points
on 1-of-10 shooting. He's 2-for-15 from the field in the past two
Felton's 3-pointer put Charlotte ahead early 22-15, in part
because Duncan struggled against Okafor, who also blocked one of
Duncan's shots in the lane in the quarter.
"He was right at the rim, he just missed some dunks," Popovich
said. "Other than that he was trying to go over Emeka a little bit
too much while he was getting bodied."
The Bobcats' good fortune didn't last. They committed turnovers
on five straight possessions and missed seven of their first nine
shots to start the second as the Spurs took the lead for good.
Ginobili's two free throws put the Spurs up 48-37.
Little-used Walter Herrmann hit a 3-pointer in Charlotte's
half-closing 5-0 run to make it 48-42, but the Argentina native
struggled to defend his fellow countryman Ginobili.
"That's his guy. They played together, so obviously he knew
something about him," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said of
Ginobili. "That's the thing with this team. They find a mismatch
and they go. Against a team like that you almost have to play
It was real simple. San Antonio came to prove a point."
It didn't help that Knight was ejected for picking up two
technicals in a one-minute span early in the third quarter. Referee
Tony Brothers hit him with the second technical -- Knight's sixth of
the season -- when he threw a towel at the beginning of a timeout.
Knight wasn't in the locker room for comment after the game.
"Anytime you lose your starting point guard it's a big blow,"
Ginobili's 3-point play and Brent Barry's 3-pointer in an 8-0
run put the Spurs up 68-53 late in the third quarter, and the
Bobcats were finished against the balanced Spurs, who placed five
players in double figures.
"They take Robert Horry, who's old as dirt, and they put him in
a ball screen and you have to make a decision," May said. "Are
you going to stop Tony Parker from getting a layup or Robert Horry
from hitting that 3? They just put you in a tough position."
Bobcats G Matt Carroll sat out with a sprained right elbow
and is expected to miss 5 to 10 days. ... The Spurs are 8-1 against
teams with below .500 records, with the lone loss being to
Charlotte. ... Bobcats C Ryan Hollins is averaging 12.2 points and
9.8 rebounds in four games with Fort Worth of the NBDL.