Manu returns to the court as Spurs cut down Nets

What used to be considered an automatic loss for the San Antonio Spurs whenever they took to the road, has been quite the opposite as the team picked up another road win during their annual Rodeo Road Trip.

On a night where both teams wore their throwback ABA jerseys, it was the Spurs (19-9) using good old fashion defense to pick up their seventh win in a row and remain undefeated on the Rodeo Road Trip (3-0), beating the New Jersey Nets (8-21) easily 103-89.

The Spurs and Nets may have been nip-and-tuck in the first quarter but San Antonio hit their defensive stride in the second quarter holding the Nets to 18 points while getting hot in the second shooting a scorching 61.5% heading into halftime.

“Any road win is good and New Jersey is obviously trying to find their way. They played hard from the beginning to end, they played hard. It’s all you can ask,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

The Spurs opened up the third quarter sticking to what they know best – solid defense. San Antonio held New Jersey to 19 third quarter points, and 35.3% shooting with Tim Duncan leading the way with 13 points heading into the fourth quarter.

“A good team like San Antonio, if you turn the ball over they will make some good plays,” said Nets rookie MarShon Brooks.

And while the Spurs may have been focused on the game at hand, the team also welcomed back star Manu Ginobili to the court. Ginobili finished with 8 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound in 17 minutes in his return off the bench.

“We were sad when he was out but now he’s back and helped us with the young guys, and down the road it makes our bench a lot deeper because a lot of guys can play,” said Spurs’ Tony Parker on the return of Ginobili. “It was definitely good having him back. Just seeing him in uniform is just great.”

As for Ginobili, he was also glad to be back on the court but was a bit cautious.

“I’d like to play 17 minutes and work my way back into basketball shape. I felt good, but I wasn’t going to try too many things, mainly because I can’t. I’m just not ready, so I just wanted to pass the ball, and feed guys and play defense on guys I probably normally wouldn’t. I was happy to be there.”

The win also was due in large part to the Spurs’ second unit. Once again the Spurs’ bench steadied the team and scored 50 points led by Gary Neal who finished with a team high 18 points off the bench.

“The bench has sustained us all year,” said Popovich. “It’s why we’ve kept our head above water. Our entire bench has been fantastic.”

Duncan notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes of play and the Spurs also dominated the paint, outscoring the Nets 50-34 while holding New jersey to 40.2% shooting for the game.

“They are a very good defensive team and they make you work on offense,” said Nets’ Deron Williams who finished the game with 27 points, and 8 assists. “If you make a lot of mistakes against them, it is very tough to beat them.”

With the win the Spurs now move their road record to 6-8. The Spurs will next face the Detroit Pistons Thursday.

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