CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It was a strange sight: Tim Duncan missing dunks.
Three times he tried to slam it over Emeka Okafor and three times the ball clanged off the back rim -- all in the first quarter.
But it didn't take long for him to break out of his funk.
"It was frustrating. I got everything at the rim that I wanted but I couldn't finish," Duncan said. "I played through that, was able to get some touches in the fourth quarter and got those to go down for me."
Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score 13 points for the Spurs, who won their third straight game.
As was the case two days earlier, the Spurs got payback for a loss from earlier in the season. But unlike San Antonio's 40-point win over Golden State, the Bobcats put up a fight until Brevin Knight was ejected in the third quarter for picking up two technical fouls.
Charlotte, which won in San Antonio 95-92 in overtime three weeks ago, led by seven in the first quarter, when Duncan shot 4-for-11. But San Antonio recovered and took an 11-point second-quarter lead.
Duncan scored 11 points in the fourth, when the Spurs built as much as a 22-point lead.
"He played it a little differently with Emeka's defense," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He started to face him up a little bit more. He did a much better job at reading the defense."
Rookie Adam Morrison continued to struggle, scoring four points on 1-of-10 shooting. He's 2-for-15 from the field in the past two games.
Felton's 3-pointer put Charlotte ahead early 22-15, in part because Duncan struggled against Okafor, who also blocked one of Duncan's shots in the lane in the quarter.
"He was right at the rim, he just missed some dunks," Popovich said. "Other than that he was trying to go over Emeka a little bit too much while he was getting bodied."
The Bobcats' good fortune didn't last. They committed turnovers on five straight possessions and missed seven of their first nine shots to start the second as the Spurs took the lead for good. Ginobili's two free throws put the Spurs up 48-37.
Little-used Walter Herrmann hit a 3-pointer in Charlotte's half-closing 5-0 run to make it 48-42, but the Argentina native struggled to defend his fellow countryman Ginobili.
"That's his guy. They played together, so obviously he knew something about him," Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff said of Ginobili. "That's the thing with this team. They find a mismatch and they go. Against a team like that you almost have to play perfect.
It was real simple. San Antonio came to prove a point."
It didn't help that Knight was ejected for picking up two technicals in a one-minute span early in the third quarter. Referee Tony Brothers hit him with the second technical -- Knight's sixth of the season -- when he threw a towel at the beginning of a timeout. Knight wasn't in the locker room for comment after the game.
"Anytime you lose your starting point guard it's a big blow," Wallace said.
Ginobili's 3-point play and Brent Barry's 3-pointer in an 8-0 run put the Spurs up 68-53 late in the third quarter, and the Bobcats were finished against the balanced Spurs, who placed five players in double figures.
"They take Robert Horry, who's old as dirt, and they put him in a ball screen and you have to make a decision," May said. "Are you going to stop Tony Parker from getting a layup or Robert Horry from hitting that 3? They just put you in a tough position."
|Tim Duncan gets by Charlotte's tough defense, hitting 9-of-17 shots from the field. (AP)|
|San Antonio (14-5) «||22||26||22||26||96|
|SA:T. Duncan 25 Pts
SA:M. Finley 6 Reb
SA:M. Ginobili 5 Ast
|CHA:S. May 18 Pts
CHA:E. Okafor 9 Reb
CHA:R. Felton 9 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|T. Duncan, PF||33||9-17||7-9||4||3||1||25|
|B. Bowen, SF||26||0-1||0-0||1||1||2||0|
|T. Parker, PG||26||4-10||2-2||3||5||0||10|
|M. Finley, SG||23||4-10||2-2||6||1||2||11|
|F. Oberto, PF||14||3-5||1-1||3||1||2||7|
|R. Horry, PF||26||2-5||0-0||5||1||2||5|
|B. Barry, SG||22||4-6||0-0||0||2||1||10|
|B. Udrih, PG||22||3-7||0-0||2||3||3||7|
|M. Ginobili, SG||20||4-10||5-5||3||5||2||13|
|F. Elson, C||19||2-5||2-2||6||1||3||6|
|J. Vaughn, PG||4||0-0||0-0||0||1||0||0|
|M. Bonner, PF||4||1-2||0-0||2||0||0||2|
|E. Williams, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Butler, C||Did Not Play|
|J. White, G||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Felton, PG||44||5-14||2-2||7||9||0||13|
|A. Morrison, SG||35||1-10||2-2||2||2||2||4|
|G. Wallace, SF||32||5-9||5-8||7||2||3||15|
|E. Okafor, C||29||4-11||3-6||9||1||3||11|
|B. Knight, PG||10||0-1||1-1||1||1||3||1|
|S. May, F||34||8-15||2-2||7||0||3||18|
|D. Anderson, SG||20||1-4||0-0||0||1||1||2|
|W. Herrmann, SF||17||2-3||0-0||1||0||1||6|
|O. Harrington, PF||14||3-4||0-0||2||0||1||6|
|P. Brezec, C||6||0-0||0-0||1||0||2||0|
|J. Voskuhl, C||Did Not Play|
|M. Ely, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Carroll, SG||Did Not Play|
|B. Robinson, SG||Did Not Play|
|R. Hollins, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|