Spurs end first half of season atop Southwest Division

SAN ANTONIO -- Tim Duncan and Tony Parker never left the bench in the fourth quarter. After five games in seven days, the rest was welcomed.

So was a lopsided win.

Duncan scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Manu Ginobili scored 26 before San Antonio sat their stars early in a 99-81 over cold-shooting Indiana on Tuesday night.

San Antonio's third straight win kept the Spurs in the familiar position of first place in the Southwest Division at the halfway mark of the season. They emerged from a busy stretch 4-1, with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, getting routed at Philadelphia and a couple close victories at Chicago and Charlotte.

Against the struggling Pacers, there was room to relax.

"We're not used to games like this," Ginobili said. "I don't know how many times it's happened this year. But we are very glad that we did have one."

Danny Granger had 17 points for the Pacers, who shot 37 percent from the field and scored their second-fewest points in a game this season. Indiana entered ranked third in the league in scoring.

Duncan had 10 rebounds to notch his 27th double-double and didn't play in the fourth quarter. Neither did Tony Parker, who scored 13 points and had seven assists.

Ginobili barely played in the fourth, but his stellar 20 minutes continued a recent re-emergence. The NBA's reigning sixth man award-winner, who led the Spurs in scoring last season, has scored 20-plus points in three of his last five games.

"He's starting to look like the old Manu," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

At the midway point of the season, the Spurs are 28-13 -- same as a year ago. But this hasn't been business as usual in San Antonio.

The Spurs opened the season without Ginobili and lost Parker for 10 games with an injured ankle. The result was a 2-5 start and whispers of the end for an NBA dynasty grew louder.

The Spurs responded by getting back to their defense-first ideology, the backbone of their four titles since 1999. Ginobili then rejoined the lineup and Parker followed suit, and the Spurs are 26-8 since.

"We haven't played our best and we still have a pretty good record," Spurs guard Roger Mason said. "We can get better and we're going to continue to do so."

San Antonio certainly looked like its usual self Tuesday.

Indiana (15-27) lost a heartbreaker Monday to New Orleans when Chris Paul sank a 3-pointer as time expired. But the Pacers might have seen this loss coming by halftime.

Indiana did little to contain Duncan, who scored 16 of his points in the first half and finished 10 of 15 from the field. Ginobili hit all four 3-pointers he fired up and was 8 of 10 from the floor.

The Spurs led 53-40 at halftime. The lead stretched to 24 in the third quarter and ballooned to as much as 29 by the fourth quarter, when both teams began emptying their benches early.

"Once the lead got close to 30, it was hard to make a comeback," Granger said.

Mike Dunleavy had 15 points for the Pacers and T.J. Ford added 10.

The Spurs play New Jersey at home Friday before starting their toughest road swing so far. It begins Sunday with a rematch at the Los Angeles Lakers -- who the Spurs beat in a 112-111 thriller last week -- before going to Utah and then Phoenix.

The Pacers have lost five of seven.

Game notes
Spurs F Michael Finley, who is from Illinois, proudly wore a T-shirt of President Barack Obama following the game. "I'll probably give him a call tonight. He's a had a busy day. I didn't want to interrupt him," he joked. ... Spurs guard George Hill has made long strides since debuting as a poor-shooting rookie this summer after San Antonio drafted him No. 26 overall. Hill entered Tuesday's game averaging 7.5 points and about 18 minutes a game, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich doesn't see him hitting a first-year wall. "He probably isn't playing enough minutes to do that. I don't think that will happen with him." ... The Spurs are 6-0 when the second half of back-to-back games are at home.