The Big Three rescued the San Antonio Spurs again.
Manu Ginobili scored 28 points, Tony Parker added 22, and Tim Duncan had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead San Antonio to a 112-104 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.
After heavy contributions from the Spurs’ reserves and role players to start the season, Parker was jokingly asked if it was about time the Big Three stepped up.
"So we’ve been playing bad the whole season. That’s what you’re trying to say? The starting five, we (stink)?" Parker said, playing along. "(The bench has) been playing great; they’ve been giving us a lot of energy."
Boris Diaw had 14 points and Tiago Splitter added 11 for San Antonio (24-7).
Struggling mightily on defense for much of the second half, the Spurs turned to their Big Three to close out the upstart Kings.
Ginobili, Duncan and Parker scored San Antonio’s final 21 points in a 23-8 run to close the game.
"It just showed their experience," Sacramento forward Rudy Gay said. "They’re a great team, that’s the reason their record is like it is year after year. Because they are great, they play great together. They know where they want the ball and they get it there exactly where they want it."
DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds, Isaiah Thomas added 27 points and Gay had 24 for Sacramento (9-20).
Shouting could be heard behind the closed doors of the Kings locker room following the game. Coach Michael Malone said his team was "a little frustrated" but "fine."
The frustration came from a game that got away from the young Kings. Sacramento, which is 3-9 on the road, outscored San Antonio 38-24 in the third quarter to take an 87-87 lead entering the fourth.
"They definitely turned up the heat," Malone said. "We had our way with them in the third quarter, but you know Pop is going to get on his team and their team is going to respond like they always do. I think it was a combination of them turning up the pressure, getting into us and us not responding to their pressure very well."
Ginobili had consecutive 3s to tie the game at 102 with 3 minutes remaining.
After being hobbled by injuries at the close of last season, Ginobili is continuing his resurgence. He is averaging 17.4 points in his past five games, and his best effort came at the right time.
"He’s stronger this year than he’s been in several years," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Both the rest and weightlifting he did all summer. He feels real confident and good about his body. He had two days of rest before tonight’s game and it showed. His legs were great and he was very energetic."
With Ginobili sparking the offense, the Spurs turned to Duncan to shut down the Kings inside.
After Cousins scored all his points primarily against Tiago Splitter, the Spurs put the eight-time All-Defensive first-team member on the Kings center. The move immediately paid off as Cousins committed a backcourt violation while attempting to take an inbounds from Ben McLemore.
"(Cousins) is a tough guy to cover," Popovich said. "He’s so big. But Timmy did a good job to make him work early and making it tough for him to get the shot off. His length helped on DeMarcus down the stretch."
Duncan then hit a free throw to complete a three-point play after drawing Cousins’ second foul on the ensuing possession.
Cousins then shot an airball while attempting several spins and duck-and-under moves against Duncan. Parker followed with a 3 to put San Antonio up 108-102 with less than a minute remaining.
"We kind of got into a panic and we didn’t execute our game well," Cousins said. "Defensively, we broke down a lot."
The Kings were 1 for 6 in scoring just two points in the final 3 minutes and committed two turnovers.
"We got a little selfish at that point," Gay said. "The ball stuck a little bit, you can’t do that."
That wasn’t the case in the third, with the Kings shooting 15 for 24 with Gay and Thomas combining for 27 points in the quarter.
Thomas scored 15 points in the third, going 3 for 3 on 3-pointers with Mills and Parker closely guarding.
NOTES: Kings F Carl Landry remains out with a torn left hip flexor muscle. Landry has not played this season. . The mascots for the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks appeared in a skit during the first quarter to promote Monday’s Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome, former home to the Spurs. … Popovich was teased about his wardrobe selection, wearing a black jacket with a white checkered pattern. Spurs television analyst and former player Sean Elliott attempted to play tic-tac-toe on the jacket when Popovich appeared on the local coverage.