SAN ANTONIO (AP) -Manu Ginobili may have given the slow-starting San Antonio Spurs a lift, but the surprise star was a reserve center who hadn't played since the 2007-08 season.
Ginobili scored 21 points and Ian Mahinmi added career highs of 15 points and nine rebounds as the Spurs overcame a slow start to defeat the New Jersey Nets 97-85 on Sunday night.
Ginobili stirred the home crowd with deft passing, fadeaways, a three-pointer and a Tim Duncan-like bank shot off the glass. But Mahinmi generated thunderous applause with a block, a monster dunk and strong inside scoring.
``He was great,' Spurs guard Tony Parker said of Mahinmi. ``In practice, we can see that he is athletic, he can jump and block shots. But you want to see it in a real game. That's what he did tonight.'
Brook Lopez scored 28 points and Yi Jianlian added 16 for New Jersey, which lost for the 34th time in 37 games.
``It's very frustrating,' said Nets forward Chris Douglas-Roberts.
The Spurs received strong support from their reserves, who combined for 59 points. New Jersey's reserves, meanwhile, contributed only 14.
``We did play the starters a lot of minutes,' New Jersey Coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. ``So the bench, except for Jarvis (Hayes), didn't get a lot of minutes. That's a little bit by design, and perhaps we could have gotten a little tired in the third quarter and we may have substituted a little too early.'
San Antonio's substitutions worked perfectly. Ginobili, Roger Mason Jr., George Hill, and especially Mahinmi provided a solid punch.
``Ian was smiling from the moment he walked in the locker room and saw the jersey hanging up in his locker,' said Hill, who scored 10 points. ``You can tell he had been wanting to play for the longest time.'
Mahinmi missed last season with an ankle injury and played in just six games the season before that. So he was ready to show he belonged on the floor.
``Lots of things were going through my mind,' Mahinmi said. ``I said, 'Here's your chance. Just go out there and have fun.' ... It feels great, especially to get the win. It's like the cherry on top.'
Duncan scored 14 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and sat out most of the fourth quarter. San Antonio plays host to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night.
San Antonio started sluggishly, shooting 43.9 percent and committing seven first half turnovers. The Nets led by as much as six in the first quarter thanks to the shooting of Douglas-Roberts, who had seven points, and Lopez, who added six.
Despite their sloppy play, the Spurs managed to grab a 49-47 halftime lead. Duncan dominated underneath with 13 rebounds and eight points. Ginobili led all scorers with 15 points but also turned the ball over three times. The Nets held Tony Parker scoreless in the first 24 minutes.
The Spurs began taking control in the third. Parker found his rhythm and dropped in eight points, and Ginobili punctuated a late 15-7 surge with a driving, soaring slam that brought the crowd to its feet. The Nets, meanwhile, hit only seven of 20 field goal attempts in the quarter.
NOTES: The Spurs tied the NBA's longest active winning streak against one team with their 14th straight victory over New Jersey ... The Spurs also have won 14 straight against the Los Angeles Clippers ... The Spurs are 14-1 against the Nets since defeating them in the 2003 NBA finals ... Nets F Eduardo Najera did not make the trip. The NBA office is expected to approve on Monday a trade that will send him to the Dallas Mavericks for F Kris Humphries and swingman Shawne Williams.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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