Manu Ginobili scored 28 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 94-73 victory over the below-par Boston Celtics on Sunday. The Argentine continued to provide the Spurs a scoring boost in the absence of Tony Parker and also added seven assists as San Antonio won for the third time in four games. They also beat the Eastern Conference leaders, Cleveland, on Friday. "Manu's been playing great for the last month. He's basically taken over the team," the San Antonio coach, Gregg Popovich said.
"Without Tony [Parker] it's really important for someone to step up like that." Parker has missed the last 12 games with broken hand and the team have also overcome fading production from their All Star centre, Tim Duncan, who has scored more than 20 points just twice in the past month. Duncan scored eight points against Boston. The Spurs led 44-43 at half-time but outscored the Celtics 33-17 in the third quarter, with Richard Jefferson, who shook off early foul trouble, scoring nine of his 16 points in the period. "I was sick in the first quarter watching the team. When I came back I wanted to put my imprint on the game and help them out," Jefferson said.
Boston were held to 30 second-half points and 37 per cent shooting and posted their lowest total of the season. Paul Pierce had 18 points and Kevin Garnett scored 12 and made 10 rebounds for Boston (47-26), who have qualified for the play-offs by winning the Atlantic Division and are third in the Eastern Conference. San Antonio (44-28) are second in the Midwest Division and sixth in the Western Conference.
* With agencies