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Spurs roll past Magic; Duncan with 17 of his 19 in first half

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The Canadian Press
11/29/2013 10:07:40 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- No Tony Parker. No problem for the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs improved their Western Conference-best record to 14-2 Wednesday night, cruising to a 109-91 victory over the Orlando Magic without starting point guard Parker, who was out with an ankle injury.

As usual, San Antonio gave a clinic on balance and depth while playing fundamentally sound basketball, getting 52 of their points from reserves.

"We count on our bench," said San Antonio centre Tim Duncan, who scored 19 points to share the scoring lead with reserve forward Marco Belinelli. "We have a bench that can change the pace of the game and bring energy."

It was Duncan who almost single-handedly brought energy to his team in the first half -- pouring in 17 points while grabbing seven of his nine rebounds. With the game in hand, Duncan didn't play much of the fourth quarter.

The Magic played the Spurs tight until early in the second quarter, when they trailed 41-40. But then San Antonio scored 17 consecutive points to take control.

Both teams were playing without starting guards: Parker, who had a sprained ankle, and Orlando's Jameer Nelson, who was nursing a sprained foot. Both were injured in games Wednesday night.

Not that losing Parker seemed to hamper the Spurs.

"That's the way we are made," the Spurs' Manu Ginobili said. "We don't depend on absolutely one player. If we were going to miss Tony for 20 games, that's another thing. But we can replace anybody for one or two games. We are deep. That's one of the strengths of this team."

The Magic, meanwhile, are a young team still struggling for NBA respect after coming off the worst record in the NBA last season, when they were 20-62. They were led by one of their promising young players, Arron Afflalo, who scored 17 points.

The Spurs, winners of four NBA titles with Duncan and the defending Western Conference champs, are once again a force, even if headlines and attention seem to always elude them.

"We don't care about that," Duncan said. "We're just here to win games."

Ginobili, who added 11 points off the bench, said the Spurs are a veteran team unconcerned with attention and the adulation that might come with it.

"We don't have big stars with big names or the sexiness of other teams," he said. "We're a small-market team, too. But we're not complaining. We're not a team concerned with what people say about us. Many of us have been here 10 or more years. We're used to it."

The Magic battled back slightly in the third quarter, slicing the Spurs' lead to 81-70 before San Antonio pulled away again.

The Spurs shot 55 per cent and got back on track after having their 11-game winning streak snapped Wednesday by Oklahoma City. They did so by seemingly capitalizing on every Magic turnover.

"They are really good and they test your discipline and your ability to do the right thing on both ends of the floor, every possession," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That's why they are 14-2."

And it's a 14-2 record that really shouldn't surprise. Every year the Spurs quietly put together these kinds of seasons.

"You can't really think that you're going to start 14-2," Ginobili said. "But we know we have a good team. We know we're going to win 50 games. That's what happened last year, and I think we're a better team this year. The bench has been really important. If you look at our depth, you'll see a lot of players who can play."

The Spurs had five players in double figures -- starters Duncan, Cory Joseph and Kawhi Leonard, and reserves Ginobili and Belinelli.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Parker's status will be a game-time decision against Houston on Saturday night.

"We'll see how he feels," he said. "His sprain wasn't severe."

Tim Duncan (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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