The San Antonio Spurs ended their lone stretch of misery this season -- a six-game losing skid -- with a resounding thumping of the Phoenix Suns. And, the Spurs got a Sunday surprise out west.
Having seen their Western Conference-lead dwindle to 1-1/2 games and most everybody predicting that the Los Angeles Lakers will overtake the Spurs for the top spot, L.A. fell at home to the upstart Denver Nuggets to give San Antonio a two-game bulge in the loss column with five games to play.
The Spurs went into Sunday's game with a message from the veteran core. It sunk in as San Antonio blitzed the Steve Nash-less (flu) Suns from the start and led by as many as 29 points in the first half. They got just 21 points combined from the "Big Three" as huge performances from the bench -- George Hill (29 points), Matt Bonner (16) and Gary Neal (15) -- paved the way.
"Before the game, our three leaders spoke up and tried to say that everyone needs to hold themselves accountable," Hill said. "It's not about one person on this team. It's about the whole team."
That it was an unconventional victory for the Spurs didn't matter. Getting back in the win column for the first time since March 21 and extending their once large lead in the West is what mattered.
"We've got a lot of confidence," Parker said, "and hopefully we can finish in first place."
SPURS 114, SUNS 97: George Hill scored 16 points in the first quarter to get San Antonio off to a much-needed fast start. The Spurs scored 70 points by halftime and led by 24. Hill led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting and Matt Bonner produced a rare double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs shot 51.7 percent from the three-point range in a game in which one Spurs starter -- Richard Jefferson with 12 points -- scored in double-figures. The Spurs' "Big Three" of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan were a combined 9-of-26 from the field for 21 points.
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