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Ginobili, Spurs Show Hornets No Mercy

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is getting the consistency he expects from his veteran stars. Playing against the undermanned Hornets team they easily could have overlooked, the Spurs started fast and never trailed in a dominant 103-77 victory over New Orleans on Thursday night.

``We really brought some maturity and professionalism to be focused for all 48 minutes and not let them get into the game,'' Popovich said. ``We're pretty experienced. The guys don't need too many speeches. They know what's appropriate at what time.''


Manu Ginobili scored 24 points and Tony Parker 19 to lead San Antonio to its third victory in a row and seventh in eight games. Tim Duncan added 11 points and nine rebounds.

Ginobili, playing with a pad strapped to his back because of a contusion in late November that kept him out of four games, scored eight points in the first few minutes of the game on a pair of 3-pointers and a driving layup as the Spurs ran out to a 13-2 lead.

He had 24 points before he had played 24 minutes and did not appear the slightest bit tentative about taking contact.

``Fast starts are always important, especially with teams that are going through some problems like they are,'' Ginobili said. ``Sometimes it's not that easy because mentally you are not as ready because they are hurting ... so we are trying to take care of business and today we did a good job.''

In other NBA games Thursday, it was: Charlotte 99, Orlando 89 and Golden State 109, Houston 107.

Parker used pressure in the back court to slow down Hornets guard Chris Paul, who finished with six points, 12.8 below his average coming in.

The Hornets (10-11) dressed only 10 players _ David West (elbow), Peja Stojakovic (back spasms) and Bobby Jackson (cracked rib) sat out _ and were no match for the Southwest Division leading Spurs (18-6), who led 75-55 in the third quarter after Brent Barry's driving floater went in off the glass as he was fouled.

The crowd for the Hornets' second game in New Orleans this season had little to cheer about in the second half, other than when the scoreboard video screen showed Saints running back Deuce McAllister in the audience. That drew howls of ``Deuce'' and a standing ovation.

The Spurs outshot the Hornets 50 percent to 40.5 percent, dominating in the paint with 52 points to 38 for New Orleans.

Rasual Butler scored 17 points for the Hornets, while Desmond Mason added 16 points and nine rebounds. Paul had 12 assists and spent the fourth quarter on the bench.

New Orleans coach Byron Scott said his team gave a good effort, but had little chance of winning.

``The San Antonio Spurs are one of the best teams in this league, if not the best,'' Scott said. ``You've got to play nearly perfect basketball to beat them. They're not going to beat themselves.

``In the long run, this is going to help us. It will probably toughen us up a little bit more. ... It's good that this is happening early.''

Warriors 109, Rockets 107

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Baron Davis hit a long 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to end the Warriors' three-game losing streak to the Rockets.

Yao Ming matched his season high with 38 points and grabbed a season-best 18 rebounds, but missed his final two shots in the closing seconds. After one of those misses, Golden State got a final chance, and Davis capitalized for the Warriors' third straight win at home.

Davis finished with 34 points and eight assists to lead five Warriors in double figures. Monta Ellis had 17 points and six assists, and Andris Biedrins added 15 points off the bench for Golden State.

Luther Head had a season-high 26 points and nine rebounds, and Rafer Alston added 19 points, eight assists and six boards for Houston.

Bobcats 99, Magic 89

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Sean May scored a career-high 32 points to help Charlotte snap a four-game losing streak.

Rookie Adam Morrison added 22 points for the Bobcats in his best outing on Charlotte's home court since scoring 27 against Miami on Nov. 25.

Emeka Okafor had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Raymond Felton and Gerald Wallace each had 12 for the Bobcats, who posted their first double-digit win of the season.

Keyon Dooling scored 20 points for the Magic, who lost their third consecutive game. Carlos Arroyo added 13 points and Travis Diener 12. Dwight Howard pulled down 12 rebounds, but was held to eight points, nearly 10 below his average.
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