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Duncan leads the way as Spurs top Bobcats

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SAN ANTONIO — Frustrated by their slow start, the San Antonio Spurs held steady behind the grinding play of their main man in the middle. Like clockwork, forward Tim Duncan came up big in the end.

Duncan scored 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 92-82 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night at the AT&T Center.

Duncan, who had four points at the half, was 6 of 12 from the field in 33 minutes.

“He (Duncan) had a tough time for a while, but that’s why he is such a professional. He doesn’t hang his head, he just goes into the next play and just keeps on going,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said on Duncan’s second half performance. “They went to him a couple of times and he really came through.”

Guard Manu Ginobili scored 15, while guards Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli each had 14 for San Antonio (42-16). Guard Danny Green and forward Kawhi Leonard both had 10.

Tied at 80 with 2:48 left, the Spurs went on a 12-2 run to end the game. Duncan had four points in the run.

San Antonio struggled, trailing through two and half quarters of the game until Ginobili connected on a 3-pointer with 5:20 in third to give the Spurs their first lead at 51-59.

The Spurs, who had 19 turnovers in the game, overcame their mistakes in the second half to fend off the Bobcats.

They built a seven-point lead before Charlotte regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter behind guard Gary Neal’s nine second-half points, but could not wrestle the lead away from San Antonio.

“You have to come with the plays at the end,” forward Gerald Henderson said. “Obviously there’s a lot of plays during the game that matter a lot, but coming down the stretch they executed on offense and we didn’t. That’s just the way it goes.”

Forward Al Jefferson led Charlotte (27-31) with 20 points.

Forward Gerald Henderson added 12, guard Kemba Walker 11 and forward Cody Zeller 10 as the Bobcats snapped a four-game win streak, their longest win streak since March of 2011.

Neal, who played three season with San Antonio, had 15 points in his Bobcats debut. Forward Josh McRoberts had 10 assists.

The Spurs struggled out of the gate, scoring a season low 14 points in the first period on 32 percent shooting and giving up the ball six times.

“We could put the ball in the hole in the first quarter and kind of really hurt us,” Duncan said. “Really put us behind. We stuck with it. It’s a 48 minute game and luckily we got it to turn. We got some shots to go down. That’s what it’s all about. We stuck with it.”

The Bobcats, starting a tough stretch where they will face top teams Oklahoma City, Miami and Indiana in consecutive games, took advantage, putting up 25 points in the first period.

They went up by as much as 14 points in the second quarter, led by Jefferson, who had 12 points at the half. But San Antonio finished the half on a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to 45-41. Leonard had 10 points at halftime.

“Yeah, we played hard,” Jefferson stated. “We just need to learn from our mistakes. We knew what they were going to do and we knew not what to do and we still did it.”

NOTES: The Spurs held Military Appreciation Night, with local businesses and season ticket-holders donating more than 1,500 tickets to Friday’s game to military families. To honor the military, the Spurs wore their camouflage jerseys for only the second time this year. … G Luke Ridnour and G Gary Neal, acquired from Milwaukee in a trade for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien, saw their first action in a Bobcats uniform in the first half. Neal played for San Antonio from 2008-12. … San Antonio was almost at full strength again after a string of injuries sidelined several players. G Tony Parker was the lone Spur sitting out, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich hopes to have him back in the lineup on Sunday when San Antonio faces the Dallas Mavericks. … Coming into Friday night’s game, the Bobcats are 1-8 all time in San Antonio. Their last win was a 92-85 overtime victory on Nov. 15, 2006. … Spurs F Tim Duncan passed Hakeem Olajuwon for 12th place on the all-time rebounding list with his 12th rebound. Duncan is one of only five players in NBA history to be ranked in the top 20 on the all-time scoring, rebounding and blocks list (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquile O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and Olajuwon).

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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