SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gregg Popovich was back from a three-game absence due to illness and feeling pretty good about the San Antonio Spurs' latest victory.
Tony Parker had 22 points and San Antonio never trailed in beating the Charlotte Bobcats 102-78 on Wednesday night, extending its winning streak to nine games.
The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, Parker had his way with Charlotte's backcourt. The Spurs All-Star guard had a game-high seven assists and was 9 for 10 from the field.
"He did it again," Popovich said. "He put it upon himself and he comes up with two big baskets down the stretch. He's really been special."
Kawhi Leonard added 18 points, Danny Green had 17 and Tiago Splitter 15 for San Antonio, which has won 17 straight at home.
Ramon Sessions came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points for Charlotte, which has lost five of six. Kemba Walker (16 points) and Ben Gordon (11) were the only other Bobcats in double figures.
The Spurs' perimeter players attacked the basket aggressively with Tim Duncan (sore left knee) and DeJuan Blair (fluid in right knee) missing the game, outscoring the Bobcats 48-24 in the paint.
"Basically, just bring energy," Leonard said of the team's strategy. "We wanted all of our guards to crash the boards tonight and get about five or more rebounds from our guards. We just wanted to keep our energy and pace up in the game."
San Antonio set up Charlotte inside by going 9 for 16 on 3s (56 percent) and shooting 55 percent from the field.
"We just tried to move the ball and take good shots," Parker said. "Tonight, it worked for me."
Leonard opened the scoring by hitting his first three shots, including back-to-back 3s that put San Antonio up 11-4 with 8 minutes left in the first. Charlotte battled back over the next 4 minutes behind an aggressive defense, forcing two missed shots and four turnovers in an 8-2 run.
The Bobcats pulled within 25-23 at the close of the first quarter on Walker's 19-foot jumper, but Manu Ginobili sparked the Spurs in the second.
Ginobili had four points, two rebounds and an assist on Leonard's 3 in the opening 2 minutes of the second quarter as San Antonio extended its lead to 32-23. Ginobili finished with nine points, six assists and five rebounds in 21 minutes.
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