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October 30, 2009

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Spurs sting Hornets in hot start

THE healthy-again San Antonio Spurs showcased their new-found depth to produce a balanced attacking effort and open their season with a 113-96 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday.

Tony Parker top-scored with 17 points and Manu Ginobili added 16 for the Spurs, who had six players scoring 10 or more points. Three others scored nine points each.

"I wasn't really expecting to score a lot," Ginobili told reporters, playing for the first time since an ankle injury last season forced him to miss 38 games.

"My job this year won't be about scoring as much but creating and changing the pace of the game coming off the bench."

Elsewhere in the National Basketball Association, it was: Hawks 120, Pacers 109; Magic 120, 76ers 106; Raptors 101, Cavaliers 91; Celtics 92, Bobcats 59; Heat 115, Knicks 93; Pistons 96, Grizzlies 74; Timberwolves 95, Nets 93; Thunder 102, Kings 89; Nuggets 114, Jazz 105; Suns 109, Clippers 107; and Rockets 108, Warriors 107.

In San Antonio, Texas, All-Star point guard Chris Paul had a game-high 26 points and nine assists for the Hornets, who also received 18 points each from David West and center Emeka Okafor, who added 10 rebounds.

San Antonio were injury-plagued last season with Parker, veteran Tim Duncan and Ginobili all effected and they failed to advance beyond the first round of the Western Conference playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

The team sought to add depth in the offseason, trading for athletic swingman Richard Jefferson and acquiring forward Antonio McDyess and center Theo Ratliff.

That depth was evident on Wednesday when rookie DeJuan Blair scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Roger Mason added 11 points. Both came off the bench and played more than 20 minutes each.

"After what happened (last year) we knew we had to improve our team and now we have a lot of weapons," Parker said.

San Antonio edged out to a 19-13 first-quarter lead and then made six three-pointers in the second to take a commanding 57-39 advantage at halftime.

Paul finished 11-for-16 from the floor.


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