Spurs run record to 17-3 with thrashing of Hornets

SAN ANTONIO -- What the NBA's best record doesn't say about the San Antonio Spurs are the four times they've fallen behind by 15 points or more before scrambling back to win.

"We got to stop that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

There was nothing to worry about in this game.

Tony Parker scored 19 points and the San Antonio Spurs beat the sliding New Orleans Hornets for the second time in a week, 109-84 on Sunday night, never trailing and leading by 38 in the most-lopsided game for the Hornets this season.

The Hornets also have other matters: George Shinn has agreed to sell the club to the NBA, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press before the game. Hornets forward David West called the ownership issue a "mess" after the game.

"During the summer we felt it was going one way, and I guess things started changing," said West, who scored 13 points. "Who knows. It'll be an experience I would imagine for us, coaching staff and all parties involved."

Matt Bonner added 14 points for the Spurs, hitting four of five 3-point attempts. San Antonio improved its NBA-best record to 17-3 and matched its best start through 20 games since the 2007-08 season.

Parker, who had another strong night after failing to reach double figures in three of the previous five games, said the team talked before the game about the big deficits.

Among the times was just a week ago in New Orleans, where the Spurs trailed by 17 before rallying.

"We would start too slow, and defensively not reacting, not playing with the same passion, not the same energy," Parker said.

Chris Paul had 16 points for the Hornets, who have lost four of five and lately look nothing like the team that opened 8-0.

"They smashed us," Paul said. "They just beat us in all phases of the game. It's pretty embarrassing."

The Hornets are 2-6 in their last eight games, spoiling what had been a record start for the franchise. New Orleans gave up season highs for points allowed, opponent field-goal percentage (58.6 percent), opponent assists (29) and set a season low for rebounds (30).

At one point midway through the second quarter, the Spurs were still shooting 74 percent as a team.

"I'm not sure we're going into the games with the same confidence that we had earlier in the season," Paul said. "Somehow, some way, we got to get that confidence back, that swagger back."

Tim Duncan had 11 points and nine rebounds before sitting for nearly the entire second half. Richard Jefferson scored 13 points, and George Hill and Gary Neal had 11 apiece.

West returned to the Hornets' lineup after a stomach bug kept him out of a loss to New York on Friday night. West was 6 of 11 from the field and played 30 minutes.

Trevor Ariza also scored 13 points for New Orleans.

Shinn has been in negotiations to sell the team to minority owner and Louisiana native Gary Chouest since last spring, but talks have been stalled for months.

The league has lined up New Orleans-born sports attorney Jac Sperling, vice chairman of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, to be the NBA's administrator of the team and oversee its sale to a more permanent owner, the person told AP on condition of anonymity because the move has not been publicly announced.

First-year Hornets coach Monty Williams said he's heard speculation about the potential sale since arriving in New Orleans but that he didn't know any details -- and added that he didn't want to know.

"There's a number of distractions we have in our lives," Williams said. "It's not a big deal to us."

Game notes
Hornets center D.J. Mbenga stayed in New Orleans while trying to overcome the same illness that had sidelined West. ... Spurs F Tiago Splitter scored five points in 18 minutes, continuing to play only sparingly since being the crown jewel of the club's offseason moves. Popovich said Splitter's impact and minutes have been hurt by him being injured for nearly all of training camp.

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