SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Bat scares and losses. That's all the Sacramento Kings get when they visit San Antonio.
Manu Ginobili scored 24 points, but this time took no bold swipes at a bat once again interrupting a Kings game in San Antonio, and the Spurs survived both the bat brush and Sacramento in a 108-103 win Friday night.
Last season against the Kings - on Halloween, no less - Ginobili swatted down a bat circling the court. But what at first was commended as fearless reflexes wound up getting Ginobili a rabies vaccination and the scorn of animal rights activists.
He wasn't making that mistake twice.
``I said 'Not again,'' Ginobili said. ``PETA insulted me. So I said this time someone else is going to take care of it.'
Tony Parker scored 27 points and Tim Duncan had 15 for the Spurs. The brief bat commotion in the second quarter ended when it flew smack into a fan seated in the third row, and after that, the NBA-best Spurs had their work cut out for them against the lowly Kings.
Jermaine Taylor and Omri Casspi had 16 points apiece for Sacramento, which took a 91-88 lead midway through the fourth quarter on Taylor's alley-oop dunk. The Kings already count the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando among their scant 15 wins this season, and at that moment, it looked like they might add the Spurs to the list during an otherwise miserable season.
But Ginobili answered with two 3-pointers on the next three Spurs possessions. That jump-started a 17-2 run that quickly changed a near-upset to the fifth straight loss for Sacramento.
Sacramento has lost 11 in a row to the Spurs, a streak that dates to 2007.
``It was kind of an impossible dream for us,' Kings coach Paul Westphal said. ``We were sitting here talking about how maybe we could have beat the Spurs on their court. But maybe we could have.'
Ginobili scored 10 points in the fourth, and DeJuan Blair had six of his 14 points in the quarter. George Hill also scored 14 for the Spurs.
Pooh Jeter finished with 15 for the Kings. DeMarcus Cousins had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Francisco Garcia added 14 points.
The Spurs played without forward Richard Jefferson, who missed the game for undisclosed personal reasons. Rookie James Anderson started in his place, scoring just three points in 18 minutes.
Jefferson is expected to back in the lineup Sunday at Houston. It's the easiest stop on a three-game road swing for the Spurs, who'll also play at Miami and at Dallas before returning home March 19 to play Charlotte.
``We're going to have to play way better,' Ginobili said.
The Kings were also down a starter. Point guard Beno Udrih, their second-leading scorer (13.8 ppg), stayed in Sacramento with the flu. Luther Head started in Udrih's place, scoring seven points.
Last season it was Udrih giving Ginobili grief for his bat-batting. This time, Westphal came closest to the bat, but whiffed when he took a lunging swing at it with his whiteboard.
``If that thing would've come six inches closer, I probably would have knocked it into next year,' Westphal said.
An usher wrapped the bat in a towel after panicked fans in the third row grounded it. They said the usher carried the bat away alive.
``Every time we come there's a bat out there on the court,' Westphal said. ``It's more of gamesmanship from Pop, I'm sure. You notice it's always flying around on our end.'
Notes: The Kings will have one more chance April 6 to break their skid against the Spurs. ... San Antonio improved to 31-3 at home.
The Associated Press News Service
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