CHICAGO (AP) –Kawhi Leonard had a career-high 26 points and Danny Green scored 18 on Monday night, helping the short-handed San Antonio Spurs beat the Chicago Bulls 103-89 without their three biggest stars.
Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were all out with injuries, and swingman Stephen Jackson also missed the game due to “personal business,” according to the team. And the NBA-best Spurs still had enough talent to beat one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams in its building.
Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter had 16 points apiece for San Antonio, which improved the league’s best road record to 19-10. Nando De Colo, subbing for Parker, had nine points and seven assists in his second career start.
Nate Robinson scored 20 points and Richard Hamilton had 16 for the Bulls, who were coming off a 3-3 road trip — their longest of the season. Carlos Boozer added 14 points and All-Star Joakim Noah pulled down 15 rebounds despite a nagging right foot injury.
San Antonio led by 14 at three different points in the third quarter, but Robinson led the Bulls right back. The streaky point guard converted a twisting reverse layup to trim the Spurs’ lead to 73-69 with 56 seconds left in the period.
Chicago pulled within one in the fourth before the Spurs began to pull away. Boris Diaw had a three-point play and Leonard converted a layup in a 7-0 surge that made it 89-78 with 5:55 to go.
Parker had 29 points and 11 assists in the Spurs’ 111-86 victory at Brooklyn on Sunday night, but coach Gregg Popovich said his right knee became swollen during the game. Parker is having an MVP-type of season, averaging 20.7 points and 7.7 assists per game.
“I’m not going to chance it with three (games) in four nights and a back-to-back and what he’s been doing for us,” Popovich said. “It’s kind of ignorant to say `That’s OK, go out there anyway.”‘
Duncan missed his fourth straight game due to a sore left knee. Ginobili was out for the fifth consecutive game with tightness in his left hamstring.
The injuries for All-Stars Parker and Duncan, plus key scorer Ginobili, meant San Antonio’s three best players were reduced to a cheerleading role for the night, but their teammates gave them plenty of reasons to stand and applaud.
Marco Belinelli had a steal and dunk during a 7-0 run that gave the Bulls a 27-20 lead early in the second quarter, but the Spurs controlled the rest of the half.
San Antonio put together a 10-0 spurt to grab a 38-32 advantage with 4:51 left. Matt Bonner sparked the surge with a long jumper and Neal also had four points in the run.
The Spurs converted 11 Bulls turnovers into 22 points and led by as many as 12 before settling for a 51-42 lead at halftime. Neal had 13 points at the break.
NOTES: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he thinks G Kirk Hinrich (right elbow) will travel with the team to Boston for Wednesday’s game against the Celtics. Hinrich hasn’t appeared in a game since Jan. 30 at Milwaukee. … Luol Deng addressed the crowd before the game and said he is looking forward to representing the Bulls at Sunday’s All-Star game in Houston. … Diaw and Splitter are the only players to appear in all 53 games for the Spurs this season. … Splitter landed awkwardly in the first quarter and was favoring his left leg when he got up. The Spurs called timeout, and he ended up playing 33 minutes.
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