EditorsNote: Resending per client’s request
Shorthanded Spurs rout Bulls
SAN ANTONIO — Heading into Saturday’s game, the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls were two teams searching for a win on the second night of a back-to-back, after both suffered defeats the evening before.
After opening the game with a 25-point lead in the first half, it was the Spurs who prevailed, defeating the Bulls 133-94 in the AT&T Center.
For Chicago, falling behind early in games is starting to become a trend, according to coach Fred Hoiberg and center Robin Lopez.
“Yeah, it’s tough, it’s tough to dig yourself out of a big hole,” said Hoiberg. “Obviously, like we’re continuing to do. It takes a lot of energy. But we can’t keep coming out with those types of starts.
“Again, we’re digging that hole that we’re digging and you don’t give yourself a chance, especially when you come out and play on the road. Give the Spurs credit, they came out with a lot more energy and determination. Both teams played last night. Both teams lost last night. They came out with much more of an edge than we did tonight and unfortunately it dug us a big hole.”
“It really feels like these last three games, we’ve had really terrible starts,” said Lopez. “I think we all know that that effort, it’s just not going to get it done for us.”
It was a season-high scoring night for center Pau Gasol, as he led the Spurs with 21 points, though he didn’t have to play in the fourth quarter.
“I just wanted to play well,” said Gasol. “That performance yesterday was a tough loss and we needed to bounce back. We needed to play well. I was able to hit my first few shots. I got in a rhythm and I was more aggressive than usual and it’s good, it worked out and it helped the team.”
Though San Antonio (8-5) led by 25 points in the first half, Lopez (17 points) helped the Bulls (2-9) bring the lead down to 10 points in the second quarter. The Bulls used a 20-5 run during a five-minute stretch. Still, as Hoiberg mentioned, it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.
The Spurs were too much for Chicago overall, outscoring the Bulls 70-47 in the second half. The Spurs shot 18 of 27 from 3-point range and their largest lead of the season peaked at 41 points.
San Antonio set a season high with eight players scoring in double figures. All Spurs players who participated in the game scored. According to coach Gregg Popovich, guard Bryn Forbes and several Spurs have been playing well.
“Bryn is playing with a lot of confidence,” said Popovich. “So are other guys — Brandon (Paul), Kyle (Anderson), Dejounte (Murray) and Joffrey (Lauvergne) before he went out. We need that with Tony (Parker) and Kawhi (Leonard) out.”
Along with Lopez, the Bulls were led by forward Bobby Portis’ 17 points and guard Kris Dunn’s 15 points.
The Spurs opened the game with a 22-6 lead in the first 6:14 of the game. Making his first career NBA start, Forbes (13 points) scored 10 points in the first half for the Spurs.
After scoring six points Friday in a loss to the Bucks, forward Rudy Gay scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, with seven of those points coming in the opening quarter.
Lopez scored 12 points in the first half while guard Denzel Valentine had an instant impact for the Bulls off the bench as he added nine points, three rebounds and three assists in the half.
Forward Lauri Markkanen did not return for the second half. He suffered a left ankle sprain and did not play for the remainder of the game. Hoiberg mentioned it was a lingering injury from the previous game.
NOTES: G Danny Green missed his first game of the season for the Spurs with tightness in his right hamstring. Green has been the Spurs’ third-leading scorer averaging 11.1 points per game. ... After scoring a season-high 18 points Friday against the Bucks, G Manu Ginobili missed Saturday’s game for rest. ... The Bulls have now lost three straight games to the Spurs in teams’ series, and the Bulls fell to 33-54 all-time against the Spurs. ... After scoring 21 and 20 points in his first two games since returning from his eight-game suspension, F Bobby Portis is averaging 19.3 points for the season.