- Associated Press - Thursday, February 27, 2014

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The fact that San Antonio weathered a spate of injuries and a road trip that lasted nearly a month did not surprise Detroit coach John Loyer. But the efficiency the Spurs showed in their return home and return to health left him and the Pistons a bit awe-struck.

Marco Belinelli had 20 points to lead eight San Antonio players in double figures, and the Spurs worked through a lethargic start to beat the Pistons 120-110 on Wednesday night.

Playing without injured All-Star point guard Tony Parker, San Antonio matched its season high with 34 assists while going 44 for 82 from the field (54 percent).

“Against the Spurs, you do not guard against two or three players; you guard a system of players,” Loyer said. “They just plug guys in and find a way. Their ability to shoot the basketball separates them from being a very good team to close to a great team.”

Kawhi Leonard had 15 points for San Antonio in his return from a 14-game absence due to a broken finger. Manu Ginobili scored 16 points, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter had 13 apiece, Boris Diaw added 12, Patty Mills 11 and Cory Joseph 10.

Ginobili had a team-high nine assists, Splitter added six and Leonard, Diaw and Belinelli had four each as the Spurs tied the season mark they set Jan. 4 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“You get 34 assists, that’s really incredible,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “So the ball movement was fantastic, the pace, we rebounded a little better. It was a good win for them, being on the road so long. Coming home, they were a little anxious, playing a little fast in the first half. They calmed down and started playing solid basketball.”

Josh Smith scored 24 points for Detroit, which has lost three straight. Will Bynum added 18 points, Rodney Stuckey 17 and Andre Drummond had 16 points and 17 rebounds.

The Spurs got off to a sloppy start despite having two practices during a five-day break following their annual Rodeo Road Trip that lasted nearly a month.

“It’s a big problem with us and we know it,” Duncan said. “I think we’re trying to play very fast - a little faster than we’re used to playing. Guys are trying to be really unselfish and force things some times. We’ve got to take care of that at some point. It’s a work in progress. That’s what we use the entire season for.”

The Spurs had 11 turnovers in the opening half, leading to 13 points and some pointed coaching by Popovich.

“What the heck are you guys doing?” he screamed during a timeout following consecutive turnovers.

In the second half, San Antonio returned to the crisp ball movement that became a staple of its early victories. The Spurs had 10 assists in the third quarter while shooting 12 for 19 from the field.

Leonard had the initial assist of the quarter, leaping over a fallen defender to throw a bounce pass that Duncan gathered for a running slam ahead of Smith.

“He made a huge difference for us on both ends,” Duncan said. “Just having his length in there, especially in situations where they’re very good on the offensive glass. … It was just great all around to have him back.”

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