Skiles out, Bulls still lose

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The battered San Antonio Spurs picked up another injury Wednesday. But playing a struggling Chicago Bulls team that just fired its coach, they also picked up another win.

The Spurs handily beat the Bulls 94-79 in Chicago's first game since the dismissal of Scott Skiles on Monday.

Tony Parker led San Antonio with 28 points. Michael Finley added 15 and Tim Duncan had 11 rebounds. The Spurs were up by double digits for almost the entire second half and led by as many as 25 points.

Joe Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Ben Gordon added 18 points for the Bulls. Assistant coach Pete Myers, who played in the NBA for eight years, served as interim coach for Chicago.

"I thought effort-wise we played in spurts," Myers said. "I thought our first unit had some moments that looked pretty good. I thought our bench outside of Chris Duhon didn't give us very much."

The Spurs have seen Parker and Duncan sit out several games this season with injuries. And while center Francisco Elson returned Wednesday after missing three games with a sprained right ankle, San Antonio was without its No. 2 scorer, reserve Manu Ginobili, who has a sprained left index finger.

And on Wednesday, the Spurs lost key role player and 3-point shooter Brent Barry when he strained his left calf with 3:20 left in the first quarter.

The team said Barry will have an MRI Thursday. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the loss of Barry and Ginobili, two key perimeter players, disappointing.

Since the timeline for those two players to return is unknown, the rest of the bench knows it will have to step up.

"Manu and Brent are huge offensive weapons off the bench," said Matt Bonner, who scored 12 points. "So I wouldn't say it adds pressure on us but it definitely makes things easier if other guys off the bench can come in and provide a lift on offense."

The Bulls, though, had issues of their own. While they came out with energy and went up by five points early, they couldn't get into an offensive groove and lost for the fourth time in five games.

"We tried to do something that we've never really done on Tony, just different pick-and-roll coverages," said Chicago's Kirk Hinrich. "And he just kind of got off on us. They did a good job of figuring out what we were doing and taking advantage of it."

Skiles was let go on Christmas Eve as the Bulls, who started with high hopes, continued to struggle this season. They lost 10 of their first 12 games and have a 9-17 mark, one of the worst in the East.

"I've been here for four years with the same coach," said Luol Deng, who scored 12 points for the Bulls. "It's going to be an adjustment."

Myers said lead assistant coach Jim Boylan had stayed behind in Chicago. Myers said he wasn't sure whether he would continue to be interim head coach for upcoming games.

"I don't know that yet, which is kind of good, because we always talk about taking one game at a time, taking one play at a time," he said before the game. "That's basically what I'm doing now."

Bruce Bowen, Ime Udoka and Bonner all scored 12 points for San Antonio.

Duhon scored 13 points for Chicago and Ben Wallace, who has been dealing with a sore left foot, scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting.

"Anything Ben Wallace gives us offensively is a bonus," Myers said. "I don't think you go into a game looking for him to score. I thought he did a respectable job against Tim Duncan tonight."

After a good first quarter, the Bulls cooled in the second and shot 8-of-21 from the field, just as Parker heated up.

With the Spurs already up by seven, Parker scored 10 points in a 15-4 run that put them up 47-29 with 4:35 left in the half.

Parker scored 12 points in the quarter and had 17 at the break, when San Antonio was up 51-39. The Spurs went ahead for good on Finley's jumper with 12 seconds gone in the second quarter that put San Antonio up 23-22.

The Bulls seemed to lose energy as the game went on, allowing San Antonio to extend its lead to 72-59 by the time three quarters were done and pull even farther away in the final 12 minutes.

Parker's bucket that counted because of a goaltending call gave the Spurs an 86-65 lead with 6:33 to go. Finley's bucket gave San Antonio its biggest lead, 94-69 with 3:56 to play, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich subbed most of his starters soon after.


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