NBA: Spurs 96, Bobcats 76

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — It was a strange sight: Tim Duncan missing dunks.

Three times he tried to slam it over Emeka Okafor and three times the ball clanged off the back rim — all in the first quarter.

But it didn’t take long for him to break out of his funk.

Duncan shook off the slow start to score 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs avenged a surprising home loss to Charlotte with a 96-76 win over the Bobcats on Wednesday.

“It was frustrating. I got everything at the rim that I wanted but I couldn’t finish,” Duncan said. “I played through that, was able to get some touches in the fourth quarter and got those to go down for me.”

Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score 13 points for the Spurs, who won their third straight game.

As was the case two days earlier, the Spurs got payback for a loss from earlier in the season. But unlike San Antonio’s 40-point win over Golden State, the Bobcats put up a fight until Brevin Knight was ejected in the third quarter for picking up two technical fouls.

Charlotte, which won in San Antonio 95-92 in overtime three weeks ago, led by seven in the first quarter, when Duncan shot 4-for-11. But San Antonio recovered and took an 11-point second-quarter lead.

Duncan scored 11 points in the fourth, when the Spurs built as much as a 22-point lead.

“He played it a little differently with Emeka’s defense,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He started to face him up a little bit more. He did a much better job at reading the defense.”

Sean May scored 18 points, Gerald Wallace had 15 and Raymond Felton added 13 points and nine assists for the Bobcats, who failed to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

Rookie Adam Morrison continued to struggle, scoring four points on 1-of-10 shooting. He’s 2-for-15 from the field in the past two games.