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Wednesday, March 6th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Bulls (34-26) at San Antonio Spurs (47-14), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Granted, the San Antonio Spurs were playing the Detroit Pistons, but temporary life without All-Star guard Tony Parker went well.
The Parker-less Spurs will shoot for a third straight win Wednesday versus the Chicago Bulls in the continuation of a six-game homestand. The Spurs have won two in a row since opening the homestand with a loss to Phoenix and handed the outmatched Pistons a 114-75 beating on Sunday.
Selected in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, Spurs guard Cory Joseph started at the point in place of Parker, who's out a few weeks with an ankle injury, and registered eight points with four assists. Joseph was told the day before the game he would get the starting nod. He talked about learning under Parker following Monday's practice.
"It helped me a whole lot. I feel like I made great strides ever since I got here as a rookie," Joseph said. "He (Parker) really took me under his wing and taught me a lot."
Joseph also credited the coaches and experience with the NBDL's Austin Toros for his improvement. The former University of Texas star said there's a good deal of competition in the D-League, but there's a difference in the NBA. Joseph, who comes from a basketball family in Canada, added that he's staying the course and trying to get better. He'll have some time to do that before Parker is 100 percent ready to go.
Manu Ginobili had 17 points off the bench and Tim Duncan posted 16 and 11 rebounds in the win over the Pistons.
"This is the first night he looked like Tim Duncan to me in the last two-three weeks," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his All-Star forward.
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, for San Antonio, which leads both the West standings and Southwest Division, and has won eight of 10 games.
The Spurs improved to 24-3 at home this season and still have Portland and Oklahoma City scheduled to visit the AT&T Center. In other injury news for San Antonio, forward Boris Diaw (lower back) is doubtful versus the Bulls.
San Antonio is one of the top scoring teams in the league with 104.8 ppg and plays tough on defense as well, allowing 95.7 ppg.
Chicago is one of the toughest defensive squads in the NBA and faces a stiff challenge in the Alamo City. Even with Parker sidelined, the Bulls should be wary of what's ahead.
The Bulls, who are surrendering 91.3 ppg, couldn't squeeze out a win at Indiana on Sunday and dropped a 97-92 decision. Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler netted 20 points apiece for Chicago, which had a two-game win streak stopped and lost for the third time in five tries. Joakim Noah had 14 points, 10 boards and five assists against the Pacers and talked about former MVP Derrick Rose (knee) sitting on the bench.
"It was great. I know that it's tough for him to be on the bench because I know how bad he wants to play," Noah said. "It feels good to have him out there. It's really good to have him on the bench and being out there."
Rose, of course has been sidelined all season since tearing his ACL in last year's playoffs and was on the bench for the first time in 2012-13. Does that mean a possible return is in store for the ultra-quick Rose? Perhaps, but he said a few weeks ago he won't rush back to the court. And why would he as the franchise player?
In the midst of playing five of six games, the Bulls have dropped two in a row on the road and are 17-12 away from home. In other injury news, guards Rip Hamilton (back) and Kirk Hinrich (foot) are questionable Wednesday.
Chicago dropped a 103-89 decision to the Spurs in the Windy City on Feb. 11. San Antonio did not have its big three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, and was led by Green's 18 points. The Spurs are 16-6 in the past 22 meetings with the Bulls, who have won two of their last three as the guest in this series.
03/06 10:25:55 ET
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