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League-Leading Spurs Head To NJ

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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(AP) – The San Antonio Spurs were able to rest their starters as they capped a stretch of four games in five nights with a much-needed rout. That probably doesn’t bode well for the New Jersey Nets.

San Antonio faces New Jersey on Monday night looking for its sixth victory in seven games as it nears the end of a nine-game road trip.

Spurs coach Greg Popovich made his first change to the starting five this season in a 118-94 victory over Washington on Saturday, inserting George Hill in place of Manu Ginobili. Hill scored 18 points and went 4 of 4 from 3-point range, while Ginobili played only eight-plus minutes and had six points.

Tim Duncan played 12 minutes – his fewest since Dec. 2, 2007 – and also scored six.

“It’s huge for us,” Ginobili said. “We earned ourselves the possibility to rest a little bit, and it’s well-needed.”

The victory came after San Antonio (46-9) had its worst offensive output in nearly three seasons in a 77-71 loss to Philadelphia on Friday. The Spurs shot a season-low 33.3 percent from the field.

San Antonio made 58.4 percent of its shots Saturday, with Tony Parker scoring 18 points.

“It’s just one of those games,” Parker said. “Coming back from a tough game (Friday), we didn’t shoot the ball well, (Saturday) everything was going in.”

The turnaround helped the Spurs move to 5-2 on their longest trip of the season and improve to an NBA-best 20-7 away from home.

A better-rested San Antonio team will face a New Jersey club that lost for the sixth time in nine games Saturday, 105-95 to New York.

The Knicks, playing without star Amare Stoudemire, shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range as the New Jersey (17-38) missed out on its first three-game winning streak since a four-game run Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2009.

“With a team like that, with the way they shoot the ball, you’ve got to hold their percentage on 3-pointers down,” said guard Devin Harris, who scored a game-high 22 points but had five turnovers. “We didn’t do a good job of rotating. We gave them wide-open shots in their sweet spots.”

New Jersey may need to improve quickly when it comes to defending the arc. San Antonio went 13 of 25 on 3s on Saturday and is near the top of the league in 3-point shooting at 39.5 percent.

Harris scored 16 points in a win over Charlotte on Friday, and has back-to-back double-digit scoring efforts for the first time since Jan. 24 and 26. He’s averaged 19.8 points in his last five games against San Antonio.

Rookie Derrick Favors had nine points and a season-high 14 rebounds versus the Knicks.

Center Brook Lopez scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards as the Nets ended a 14-game losing streak against the Spurs with a 90-84 home victory March 29, the teams’ last meeting.

Updated February 13, 2011
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pixy League Leading Spurs Head To NJ