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Spurs 104, Bulls 96

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CHICAGO — Guard Tony Parker scored 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter and the San Antonio Spurs parlayed a fast start into a 104-96 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center.

Guard Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 22 points and forward Kawhi Leonard added 16. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was able to give his starters a long rest in the second half.

Since losing at home to Chicago on Jan. 29, San Antonio has gone 14-3.

The final score was deceptive because the Bulls made a late and futile charge after entering the fourth quarter trailing by 24.

Guard D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 24 points, guard Jimmy Butler added 23 points and center Joakim Noah contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Parker dominated the game from the opening tip. He scored on drives, jumpers and a spinning lay-in as the Spurs opened a 23-6 lead. While San Antonio hit 10 of its first 13 shots from the field, Parker and Leonard combined to score 19 of the first 21 points.

When Ginobili finished the first quarter with a reverse lay-in, the Spurs led 38-14. It equaled the largest first-quarter deficit in Bulls franchise history.

San Antonio (47-16) shot 71.4 percent from the field in the first quarter (15 for 21) compared with 26.3 percent by Chicago (5 for 19).

The lineup changed, but the second quarter brought more of the same. Former Bulls guard Marco Belinelli drained two 3-pointers in the opening 90 seconds, guard Patty Mills hit all three of his shots and backup center Aron Baynes tossed in a couple of baskets.

The Spurs’ lead peaked at 32 points on four occasions, including 57-25 with 3:03 left in the first half on a Belinelli floater. San Antonio led 97-75 midway through the fourth quarter before Chicago finished with a 21-7 run, but eight points was as close as it got.

The Bulls (35-29) are halfway through a challenging six-game homestand that features opponents with four of the five best records in the league. So far, Chicago has lost to Memphis, beaten Miami and lost to the Spurs. Houston, Sacramento and Oklahoma City are next on the schedule.

NOTES: Chicago G Derrick Rose is doing more after practices, such as shooting jump shots and running side to side. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s latest update was not any more optimistic that Rose could return from knee surgery this season. “He’s doing a little bit more, a little bit more running now,” Thibodeau said. “He’s still nowhere near ready to practice, but he’s doing well. His spirit’s strong. His body feels good.” … San Antonio G Marco Belinelli, who played well for the Bulls last season, got a nice ovation from fans at the United Center and knocked down his first two 3-point attempts after checking in. Asked before the game how much Belinelli has helped, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a quip ready. “He’s a great source for Italian restaurants around the league,” Popovich said. “We argue consistently about what’s good and what’s not good.” … Asked if this has been his best coaching job, with all the injuries the Spurs have endured, Popovich joked, “Haven’t they all been brilliant? My 2-22 season at Pomona was my best.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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