Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/22/12
SAN ANTONIO -- Twenty eight games into the season, the San Antonio Spurs have had to deal with their share of injuries and absences. Back to full strength for the first time since November, and with consistent play from Tim Duncan, it was enough to get them into the win column again. Duncan had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs defeated the New Orleans Hornets 99-94 Friday night at the AT&T Center. The 36-year-old forward, who is in his 16th season, continues to play at a youthful level as he added five assists, two blocks and two steals in 32 minutes. His performance, and a Spurs' victory were much needed after San Antonio played 12 of its last 16 games on the road, losing four of its last 5 games. "This year he has been incredible. Finishing with dunks, running in transition," said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili on Duncan's play this year. "The guy really looks amazing." Returning to the friendly confines of the AT&T center, San Antonio was led in scoring by Tony Parker who had 25. Manu Ginobili chipped in 13 and Boris Diaw added 12 as San Antonio moved to 20-8. Kawhi Leonard saw his fist action after sitting out 18 games with tendinitis in his left knee. He had eight points in 20 minutes. Coupled with Stephen Jackson's return on Monday, San Antonio's lineup is healthy again. "Well, it's good to have everybody back," said Spurs coach Greg Popovich. "We will have to figure out minutes and who is going to play where and when. We have a lot of choices now." The pesky Hornets, who were down by 16 in the third quarter, cut the deficit to four on a Roger Mason field goal with six minutes left to make the score 84-80. San Antonio pushed the lead back up to 10 when Tony Parker's reverse layup made it 98-88 with two minutes. New Orleans tried to make one final push but the closest the Hornets got was when rookie Anthony Davis dunked with nine seconds to finish the scoring. "Monty [Williams] has them playing hard from horn to horn," Duncan said. "We knew that they weren't going to give up. And they just kept on coming and stayed in the game. Credit to them. Lucky enough to keep it on and close it out." San Antonio kept the pressure on New Orleans all game, getting 25 fast break points. "Well, that's the reason you enjoy working with this crew of guys," said Hornets head coach Williams on his team's effort. "No matter what the situation, they fight and they don't give in. It just didn't seem like Hornets basketball, but our guys regrouped as we always do and played with a sense of urgency in the second half." Davis led the Hornets with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Five other Hornets scored in double figures: Robin Lopez scored 10, Ryan Anderson 12, Roger Mason 10 and Brian Roberts 11. Grevis Vasquez also had 14, as New Orleans fell to 5-21. The Hornets have lost 10 in a row, with their last win a 102-81 over Milwaukee on Dec. 3. It's their longest losing streak in eight seasons. "We have been in games," said Vasquez of the string of losses. "We put ourselves in a good situation, but then we run out of gas or we don't execute in the end. That is part of being young. It's hurtful. Nobody is happy in this locker room." San Antonio had a 54-42 halftime lead, behind Duncan's 11 points. Vasquez and Anderson both had 10 in the first half to lead the Hornets. Notes: The Hornets have lost the last six games to the Spurs, including the season-opener, 99-95. ... This is the first of a four-game homestand for San Antonio, the Spurs' longest of the season. The Spurs are (9-2) at home. ... Hornets general manager Dell Demps and Williams have strong ties to San Antonio. Both played for the silver and black, Demps during the 1995-96 season, along with Williams. Demps went on to become director of player personnel from 2005-07. Williams was a coaching intern under Popovich during the 2004-05 season. ... A rash of injuries has forced the Spurs to use 12 different starters this season. San Antonio has the most players with one start in the NBA.
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