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Ginobili leads Spurs to third straight win

Nov 27, 2008 - 5:19 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili made his 2008-09 home debut, and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Chicago Bulls 98-86 on Wednesday.

Tim Duncan scored 21 points for the Spurs, who have been bolstered by the return of their leading scorer from a season ago. Ginobili missed the first 12 games after having ankle surgery this past summer.

The Argentine scored 12 points in a win at Memphis on Monday. He reminded the home fans what they have been missing.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year came off the bench to a standing ovation, and finished with 15 points, eight in a pivotal third quarter that saw the Spurs turned a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead.

"So far, so good," Ginobili said. "I didn't think I'd be doing so well so early."

"He's an amazing player," said Spurs rookie guard George Hill, who scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.

"I asked him if he played soccer or learned his moves from a DVD or something. He said it's just natural I've been trying to get steps like him, so I guess I'm going to have to take ballroom dancing or something, because I need those steps in my game."

Ben Gordon nailed a 3-pointer, and then an 18-footer, giving Chicago a 67-58 lead with 5:36 left in the third. But San Antonio countered with an 8-0 run over the next two minutes, cutting the lead to 67-66.

A minute later, back-to-back 3-pointers from Ime Udoka gave the Spurs a 72-69 lead with 2:30 left in the third. Chicago, which fell to 1-6 on the road, never led again.

"In key moments, we didn't make the right plays to extend the lead," Gordon said.

"We played well early, but we ran out of gas a little bit," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "They made adjustments to guard our screen and roll, and we weren't able to guard theirs as well."

During one stretch, from 3:29 left in the third to 4:57 left in the game, the Bulls scored just six points.

"Our defense really picked us up in the second half," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We got real aggressive defensively, and we made some shots on top of that."

It was part of a seven-game Western Conference road trip for the Bulls, who finished 3-4.

"We lost more than we won, so I wouldn't consider it a successful trip," Gordon said.

Gordon and Drew Gooden combined for 20 of the team's 26 points in the third quarter, but the momentum had clearly shifted San Antonio's way. Gooden finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Gordon led all scorers with 23 points.

The Spurs are starting to get healthy, but are still without Finals MVP Tony Parker, who remains out with a high ankle sprain.

San Antonio has gotten production from several key reserves. Against Chicago, it was Hill's turn.

"He's having a good season for a rookie that is learning his position," Popovich said. "He does a lot of things that go unnoticed, but it helps the team win. He plays an all-around game."

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