SAN ANTONIO — Bryn Forbes and San Antonio’s reserves gave the Spurs a big lift at an opportune time.
Forbes scored 22 points, Rudy Gay had 20 and San Antonio stopped a four-game slide with a 108-101 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
“Wins help, but I think we just played better,” said Patty Mills, who scored 17 points in his second start. “I think even if we would have lost that game we still could have had a positive feedback because we played better. That’s where we’re trying to be right now.”
The Spurs played without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, who are out with quadriceps injuries. Charlotte was without Nicholas Batum and Michael Carter-Williams, who also have not played this season, along with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Each team had to find scoring elsewhere, and San Antonio’s backups responded in a big way.
“I thought they were physical and pretty tenacious (and) communicated well,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Dejounte Murray added 10 points, helping San Antonio’s reserves outscore Charlotte’s 64-16.
“I just try and contribute the way I can contribute,” Forbes said of his role off the bench. “Do what they tell me to do and try to affect the game in some way. That’s all I was really thinking coming into the game.”
Forbes was 8 for 11 while coming within five points of matching his career high.
“I thought Forbes was terrific,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “He had three high pick-and-roll 3s and then he hit the last one near the front of our bench and it was a great shot at the end of the shot clock.”
Jeremy Lamb led Charlotte with 27 points. The Hornets had won three in a row, but could not sustain a rally midway through the fourth quarter.
After Kemba Walker hit a pair of free throws to pull within 86-84, the Spurs regained a double-digit lead less than three minutes later. Mills fueled the run, hitting four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“Patty Mills hit some tough ones,” Lamb said. “They were contested. He just hit some.”
Mills said he was inspired by Manu Ginobili, his 40-year-old teammate whom he teasingly calls “Grandpa.”
Ginobili had 10 points and five assists while becoming the first South American to play in 1,000 games in the NBA. The 40-year-old Ginobili was spry, scoring six points in his first six minutes and then throwing down a one-handed dunk in the fourth quarter after playing 21 minutes.
San Antonio had eight dunks, one less than its made 3-pointers for a team that relies on outside shooting. The Spurs shot 47 percent from the field.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 points for San Antonio, marking just the second time in nine games that he has not led the team in scoring.
Dwight Howard had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Charlotte, but was 1 for 4 on free throws in the final four minutes.
Hornets: Kidd-Gilchrist missed the game for personal reasons. … Lamb has scored at least 15 points in all nine games this season after doing so only 11 times last season. … Dwayne Bacon made his fourth start of the season. … The Hornets scored 19 points in the first quarter, the lowest by a Spurs opponent this season, but it was not Charlotte’s lowest production. The Hornets were held to 18 points in the first quarter against Orlando on Oct. 20.
Spurs: Aldridge had a blocked shot for the 17th straight game, the league’s longest active streak. … Kyle Anderson scored in double figures for the fourth time this season, equaling his total in 72 games last season. . Forbes’ career high of 27 points came against Dallas on April 7.
Ginobili was initially listed as questionable and then ruled out by Popovich for rest, but the 16-year veteran convinced the staff that he needed to play.
“Yeah usually on back-to-backs I don’t play, or play very few of them, but today I really felt like I had to play, that I needed to play,” Ginobili said. “Because I was disappointed at the way I played the day before and I needed that feeling to redeem myself or feel better about myself.”
Ginobili joined Parker and Tim Duncan as the only players in franchise history to play 1,000 games with the Spurs.
Mills has struggled shooting this season, but was 4 for 7 on 3-pointers against the Hornets.
“The most important thing is I don’t shy away from shooting, especially open shots,” Mills said. “If I can stay mentally aggressive that way than it’s good. I thought tonight I thought was more aggressive in that sense compared to other games, but still shooting them.”
Hornets: Visit Minnesota on Sunday night in the second game of a four-game road trip.
Spurs: Host Phoenix on Sunday night in the third of a six-game homestand.