The San Antonio Spurs cruised to a 99-81 home win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili shouldering the scoring responsibilities for the winners.
Duncan had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Southwest Division leaders, contributing 12 of his team’s 22 first-quarter points before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Ginobili scored 26 points in 21 minutes, making all four of his three-point attempts. He had 15 points in the second period to power the Spurs to a 53-40 halftime lead.
The Argentine also had eight rebounds before resting most of the final period.
Tony Parker added 13 points and seven assists for San Antonio, who improved to 16-7 at home.
Coach Gregg Popovich, who scolded the Spurs for their lack of defense in Philadelphia last week, found efforts more to his liking on Tuesday.
“I was really happy with the overall defense from beginning to the end of the game against a team that is scoring the third-most points in the league,” Popovich told reporters. “I thought we did a wonderful job of it.”
Still, Ginobili said he saw room for improvement.
“I think we’re where we usually are at this point,” he told reporters. “The record is good, but I truly believe we have a long way to go if we want to make it to the championship.”
Like his coach, Ginobili said the Spurs must step up even more on defense.
“Defensively, we’ve really got to improve,” he said. “We’ve got to be more steady. We’re OK for now, but if we want to make it, we’ve got to be great, and we’re still a long way from there.”
Danny Granger scored 17 points and Mike Dunleavy had 15 for the Pacers, who are in last place in the Central Division. They have won only six times in 24 road games.
NUGGETS 118, KINGS 99
At Denver, Linas Kleiza scored 27 points and Chauncey Billups had 22 as Denver used strong second and third quarters to beat Sacramento.
J.R. Smith had 19 points and Nene 13 points and 12 rebounds for Denver, who outscored the Kings 71-44 in the middle frames.
Kevin Martin led Sacramento with 25 points and rookie Jason Thompson had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who fell behind by 30 in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets trailed by as many as 10 in the second quarter when Kleiza and Smith led the charge back. Kleiza had 11 points and Smith scored nine points during a 19-4 run that gave Denver a 43-38 lead.
JAZZ 112, TIMBERWOLVES 107
At Salt Lake City, Mehmet Okur scored 22 points and hit consecutive late 3-pointers to send Utah past Minnesota for its seventh straight home win.
Paul Millsap led Utah with 28 points and 15 rebounds and his dunk gave the Jazz a 97-89 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The Wolves cut the lead to 97-96 on Randy Foye’s 3-pointer.
Al Jefferson, who had 25 points and eight rebounds, missed a jump hook and Okur grabbed the rebound. He then made his consecutive threes and added a free throw. Deron Williams, who had 17 points and 11 assists, made a jumper to expand the advantage to 106-97.
Ryan Gomes and Foye each had 19 points for Minnesota.
HAWKS 105, BULLS 102
At Chicago, Mike Bibby scored nine of his season-high 31 points in the final five minutes as the Atlanta Hawks beat the Chicago Bulls 105-102 to complete a three-game season sweep.
Solid throughout the night, Bibby came up big in the end to lift the Hawks to their second win in as many nights.