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Spurs deliver spanking

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(AP)
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) battles San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter for a rebound during the Bulls' 103-89 on Monday in Chicago.

CHICAGO – Monday night's Bulls-Spurs matchup at the United Center was more a story about which players didn't suit up.

While all of Chicago awaits the return of Derrick Rose, fans who came to see the Spurs trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili had to settle for Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Nando De Colo.

Made life easier for the Bulls, right? Not exactly.

Just as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau noted, the Spurs appear to be the gold standard regardless of what lineup cerebral coach Gregg Popovich puts out on the floor. Even with Duncan and Parker sidelined by knee injuries and Ginobili out with a hamstring, the Spurs showed why they own the best record in the NBA, defeating the Bulls 103-89.

Sparked by Nate Robinson's 11 points in the third quarter, the Bulls rallied from a 14-point deficit to make it a game, but their effort went for naught as they fell to 15-12 at home.

Leonard led the Spurs (41-12) with 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including a handful of backbreaking jump shots in the fourth quarter. Danny Green also had his outside shooting touch and finished with 18.

Robinson paced the Bulls with 20 points while Richard Hamilton added 16. One stat really told the story of the game: The Bulls had 19 turnovers to just eight for the Spurs.

The Bulls pulled to within 76-75 on a Taj Gibson dunk with just less than 10 minutes remaining. The Spurs never flinched, using a 13-3 run to regain control.

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