Ginobili's return sparks Spurs to latest win

Sun Mar 6, 2016 1:10am EST
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(The Sports Xchange) - Despite the fact the San Antonio Spurs went 11-1 while Manu Ginobili was out with an injury, there is no doubt about the importance of the 13-year NBA veteran to the team's run toward another championship.

Ginobili scored a season-high 22 points in 15 minutes in his return to the Spurs and sparked the Spurs to a 104-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

Ginobili missed 12 games with a testicular injury suffered Feb. 3 against New Orleans and the subsequent surgery and rehab. He wore a protective cup for the first time in practice this week and played like the injury was the furthest thing from his mind.

"If I play once a month, it helps," Ginobili joked. "I was very excited to be on the court again and competing with my teammates. I got a little bit tired. I'm a 38-year old man and I haven't played for a month so that was expected. I will say, though, that I didn't want to play more than (the 15 minutes)."

And it was hardly surprising for coach Gregg Popovich.

"I've seen him in the three workouts and if I hadn't, then I would've been surprised," Popovich said. "I didn't know how much he was going to play."

Ginobili helped San Antonio turned a close game into a runaway by scoring 13 points during a dominating third quarter and won for the eighth straight outing to remain unbeaten at home this season. The Spurs (53-9) improved to 30-0 at the AT&T Center this season, extending their record for the best home start ever by a Western Conference team.

The victory also allowed San Antonio to lengthen its regular-season home victory streak to 39 games, dating to an overtime loss to Cleveland last March. Their record is the best in franchise history after 62 games.

Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 25 points and 13 rebounds. David West added 12 points before fouling out late in the game and Boris Diaw had 11 points.   Continued...

Mar 5, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) shoots the ball as Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) and small forward Omri Casspi (18) defend during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports