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Spurs continue to roll with win over Pacers

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SAN ANTONIO — One of the staples of the San Antonio Spurs’ offense over the years is the corner 3-pointer.

The Spurs got one from point guard Tony Parker and another on the next possession from small forward Kawhi Leonard during a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter Wednesday, propelling them to their fifth straight win, 106-100 over the Indiana Pacers at the AT&T Center.

San Antonio was playing without coach Gregg Popovich, who underwent what the team called a minor medical procedure.

“It was obviously a big win for us,” said Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina, who stepped in for Popovich. “We knew we were going to play against the team, even if they were missing a lot of great players. They are a tough team and very well-coached. They played hard coming in here, especially after the big win in Dallas, and they did extremely well. I think we started off a little awkward, and the fact that Coach Popovich wasn’t here made us feel strange in the game.”

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who played for Messina with Bologna in the Italian League, also drained a 3-pointer during the decisive run on his way to a game-high 28 points. Leonard finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Parker added 21 points and six assists. San Antonio forward Tim Duncan scored 17 points.

“It was a flurry,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “It seemed like they scored on the last six or seven possessions in a row. The guys were battling, and (the Spurs) were making shots. Manu saves that one from out of bounds to the rim. Kawhi looks Solomon (Hill) in the eye and pulls a 3 on him and drills it. That’s why they’re the champs. I’m proud of our effort.”

The Pacers stayed in the game largely on the strength of their own 3-point shooting. The Spurs came in as the NBA’s second-best team defending the 3-point arc, but Indiana wasn’t impressed. The Pacers made 10 of 21 tries from long distance, including a four-point play from forward Chris Copeland with 1:36 to go that kept them in the game.

However, Copeland air-balled another try from 3-point range with a minute to go, and Indiana never seriously challenged again.

Guard Rodney Stuckey scored a team-high 22 points for Indiana, which has won six of its last nine despite the loss. Power forward Luis Scola, Copeland, guard A.J. Price and forward Solomon Hill also scored in double figures.

“We have been playing well the last couple of games,” Scola said. “We did enough to win the game tonight, but they hit jumpers in the third and fourth quarters and they got away with the win. It’s hard to beat this team, especially on their home court.”

The Pacers took the lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from forward Damjan Rudez and Price in the first minute of the first quarter, and another trey from forward C.J. Miles pushed them in front 87-81 with 9:41 to go in the fourth.

It was a five-point game after Stuckey drove to the basket for a layup at the 7:16 mark, but that was the Pacers’ last basket for 4 1/2 minutes as the Spurs went on their run.

Indiana led 27-25 after the first quarter and 55-50 at halftime, but the Spurs controlled the third. Personal runs of 6-0 by Parker and 7-0 by Ginobili pushed San Antonio in front 77-73 before a Miles 3-pointer at the buzzer made it a one-point game heading into the final 12 minutes.

“It does not happen often that I feel and play like this,” Ginobili said. “I would like to play like this every game, but it’s just hard. The three days off helped, and we are a deep team. On any given night someone else can score in bunches, and I’m happy that it was me tonight.”

Indiana led by as many as nine in the second quarter after back-to-back Stuckey baskets, but the Spurs shot 63.9 percent in the second half to leave the Pacers behind.

“I have a lot of respect for those guys coming in here,” Duncan said. “They have had a lot of success on the road thus far, and we knew that. They played another great game tonight, and luckily we got to a point that we could make a couple of stops and get some shots. It was a really tough game tonight.”

NOTES: The Spurs lead the all-time series with the Pacers 49-35. The teams split the season series 1-1 last year, with Indiana winning in San Antonio for the first time in 12 tries, posting a 111-100 decision Dec. 7, 2013. … Through Tuesday, San Antonio ranked in the top five in opponent’s points-per-game (first, 91.5), opponent’s 3-point percentage (second, .282), opponent’s rebounds-per-game (third, 39.3) and opponent’s field-goal percentage (fifth, .428). … The Pacers have had seven players miss a total of 71 games, including four who have yet to play a game.

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

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