The San Antonio Spurs proved once again they can survive without Tony Parker, defeating the Chicago Bulls 101-83 on Wednesday night to get their second consecutive victory since the star guard left the lineup.
As it's prone to be in Gregg Popovich's system, the Spurs' victory was thanks to an all-around team effort. Tim Duncan led the way with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, with Manu Ginobili matching the Big Fundamental's point total and dishing out nine assists in his expanded shot-creator role.
Overall, San Antonio looked much like the well-oiled bunch it has been all season long. The Spurs shot 54.1 percent from the field and knocked down eight of 14 three-pointers against a Bulls team that stymies top-notch opposing offenses on a regular basis.
As for Chicago, well, nights like this are why Bulls fans are waiting on bated breath for Derrick Rose's return. The Bulls shot just 36.7 percent from the field, as their offensive efficiency fell off a cliff during the second half. After taking a lead into the halftime break, Chicago was outscored 54-31 in the game's final 24 minutes.
Joakim Noah had a particularly bad night from the field, shooting just 4-of-13 and failing to take a single free throw. He was swallowed up the entire night, rendering Chicago's interior presence ineffective as Marco Belinelli paced the Bulls with 21 points.
The loss was Chicago's fourth in its past six games and a signal that the team's starters may finally be showing signs of fatigue after shouldering such a heavy burden this year.
Player of the Game: Tim Duncan
It seems crazy to think that this time a year ago, many were wondering whether Duncan would retire after the 2011-12 season. Twelve months later, and he's back to averaging a nightly 17-10 and playing stalwart defense down low.
Considering he was integral in swallowing up Noah down low and put up right around his season averages, it's hard to pick anyone else for top honors. Wednesday night was just another brilliant performance from the Spurs' always-steady force.
What's Next for the Bulls?
The 34-27 Bulls will get a 24-hour reprieve to travel and head home before taking on the Utah Jazz at the United Center.
What's Next for the Spurs?
The 48-14 Spurs will also get to do some hanging out on the homestead before taking on the Portland Trail Blazers at home Friday.