for this game

Bonner big in second half as Spurs rout Nets

Feb 11, 2009 - 5:07 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Matt Bonner apparently has taken Gregg Popovich's direction to heart.

Bonner scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half as the San Antonio Spurs posted another road victory, a 108-93 triumph over the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday.

"He made a ridiculous amount of shots," Popovich said of Bonner. "He was great. He's been playing really well at both ends of the floor. He's made our offense click over the last month very well.

"The combination of Matty's offense and team defense made the difference in the second half."

It was Bonner's second straight 20-point game for the Spurs, who now are 3-1 on their eight-game road trip while the rodeo occupies the AT&T Center.

An annual extended jaunt away from home, San Antonio's lone loss on the trip was against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, when Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili all sat out. The trio had four days of rest and secured an impressive victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Popovich didn't think it was necessary to warn the team about letting down after playing the Celtics.

"We didn't mention it to the guys," he said. "We just wanted to see how they would come out because we thought they would be pretty satisfied with themselves beating a team like Boston, and I didn't see any sign of that at all."

In that win, Bonner scored 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting, showing a renewed confidence thanks to Popovich, who told him if he was hesitant to shoot, he would pull him from the game.

The New Hampshire native certainly wasn't shy in his return to New England and, after a trip down I-95, he shot 8-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-5 from the arc, in this one. He had just one 20-point game prior to his recent outburst.

"I made some open shots and got it going there in the beginning of the third quarter and helped us break it open," Bonner said. "It's funny because I don't feel like I'm in a groove. I'm just doing what I always do - shoot when I'm open, and the shots have been going in the last few games."

Bonner, who entered the game averaging 8.4 points, also got some help from his star-studded teammates.

Tim Duncan collected 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Tony Parker scored 20 points for the Spurs, who carried the momentum into this one, taking a modest three-point lead at the half before outscoring the Nets, 28-18, in the third quarter.

"It makes it tough to guard us," Bonner said. "If you're going to double Timmy on the post or help on Manu and Tony on the penetration, you're going to deal with guys who can step in and make open shots."

Vince Carter scored 25 points and Devin Harris added 21 for New Jersey, which has lost two straight after a four-game winning streak.

The Nets continued to struggle against the Spurs, who also emerged triumphant in a matchup between the teams in the 2003 NBA Finals.

New Jersey can't seem to buy a win in the regular-season series, either, failing to defeat the Spurs during the 82-game slate since November 13, 2002.

"It's difficult to put together four good quarters against a solid basketball club like the Spurs," Carter said. "There smart, they make sure they get the basketball to Tim Duncan, and that's difficult to defend.

"This was a learning experience for us, and hopefully we can bounce back and learn from our mistakes."

The Spurs went on a 19-8 run in the third quarter, giving them a 73-59 lead with 6:43 left. Bonner scored the last five points of the spurt, including a deep 3-pointer to cap it.

"It was our lack of defense," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "That is a high, high-level team. They're extremely well schooled, and we just really never had an impact on the defensive end.

"They're a very, very good team and, defensively, you've got to invest a whole lot more. And it's hard, but that's what you've got to do against the real elite teams."

Manu Ginobili scored just nine points in nearly 28 minutes while battling foul trouble for San Antonio, which didn't need him. The Spurs shot 53 percent (41-of-78) from the field.

Brook Lopez continued to play well for New Jersey, scoring 18 points for his eighth straight double-digit scoring performance.

"I really like where we are and, when our young guys start emerging and get more confident in their game, I think we'll be up there with some of the elite teams we play," Frank said.