8:30 PM ET, April 3, 2013
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Relying heavily on its bench, San Antonio took control of a see-saw battle in the fourth quarter and walked away with a 98-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Danny Green led all scorers with 20 points, Gary Neal had 16 and Tiago Splitter add 10 points and nine rebounds as San Antonio avoided its first three-game losing streak since 2011, getting a much-needed victory after back-to-back defeats in the closing seconds to Miami and Memphis earlier in the week.
Coach Gregg Popovich gave many of his regulars some welcomed rest. The Spurs travel to Oklahoma City for a Western Conference showdown Thursday after extending their lead to 1 1/2 games over the idle Thunder.
"That group that was out there did a pretty good job of attacking," Popovich said. "They didn't hold the ball. They kept good pace on the court and they played pretty good defense."
"I though Cory did a great job of catching and penetrating and creating problems in that regard," Popovich said. "Nando kept us together pretty well. Patty had a tough night shooting, but his hustle is infectious."
Parker was resting the left ankle that he sprained on Feb. 27 against Sacramento. The injury kept him out for eight games before returning to lineup for the last five games before Wednesday.
Leonard sat out for a second straight game with a sore knee and Ginobili is nursing a strained hamstring that is expected to keep him out for four weeks.
A 15-2 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Green midway through the fourth finally allowed the Spurs to take control of the game.
"We wanted to jump on them and give some of our guys a rest," Green said. "It's always good to get the win first. The rest will hopefully help the team come tomorrow. Guys are sore and banged up a little bit. So hopefully they come out fresh tomorrow."
Before the run, San Antonio appeared sluggish and unable to pull away from the Magic, which was within four points at 74-70 with 10:37 remaining.
"They're just a team that's been there, done that over and over again," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said. "They were able to capitalize on our lack of small details."
Maurice Harkless scored 18 points for Orlando. The Magic kept it close by taking advantage of nine first-half turnovers by the Spurs and 16 overall. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Beno Udrih scored 14.
Tim Duncan played just 14 minutes and Tiago Splitter saw 17 minutes of action. Popovich had to go deep into his bench and called on little-used big man Aaron Baynes, who help spark a late third-quarter charge with back-to-back buckets.
"I didn't want to play Tiago any more than I wanted to play Timmy," Popovich said. "(Orlando) hung in there; finally we found a group that made some shots and got it going. So Baynes was really important in being out there."
Vaughn is another off the Popovich lineage of NBA coaches, having spent one season on the Spurs bench as an assistant, after playing three seasons with the Spurs . The Spurs' magic number is two to clinch the Southwest Division title . DeJuan Blair joined the other ailing Spurs, missing the game with a stomach virus . Orlando was without three players, including starting point guard Jameer Nelson, out with a sprained right ankle . The Magic have lost 10 of the last 12 meetings in San Antonio . Stephen Jackson, who tweaked his right ankle three minutes into the contest, will not travel to Oklahoma City and is expected to have an MRI on Thursday.
SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 3: Beno Udrih #19 of the Orlando Magic drives against Nando de Colo #25 of the San Antonio...
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MVP: On a night when no one really stood out, Danny Green gets the game MVP for leading all scorers with 20 points (on 7-of-10 shooting) and hitting a pair of 3s during a 15-2 Spurs run that put the game away.
X factor: Starting in place of Tony Parker, who sat with a sore left ankle, Nando de Colo threatened to post a triple-double with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes of play.
That was ... exactly what the Spurs needed before playing OKC: The Spurs face the Thunder on Thursday in a game that could decide the No. 1 seed in the West playoffs. The Spurs were fortunate to win without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, while only giving Tim Duncan 14 minutes of action.
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