They were bloodied and eventually beaten, though not before delivering the type of effort Gregg Popovich always expects of his San Antonio Spurs.
Even when his team is so banged-up that it had two guys in protective facemasks on the court at the same time — and one of them broke his nose again, anyway.
"I know we didn't look pretty," Popovich said. "I'm more interested in results than how we look. So I thought they performed well."
The short-handed Spurs hung in, but Alan Anderson scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 103-89 victory Thursday night.
Despite playing without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, their top four scorers, the Spurs were still within five points early in the fourth quarter before the Nets pulled away for good.
Deron Williams added 16 points and eight assists as Brooklyn ended a six-game losing streak to San Antonio with its first victory since March 29, 2010.
The Spurs overcame all their challenges to pull out a 125-118 double-overtime victory at Washington on Wednesday, but didn't have enough to beat an improving Brooklyn team and fell to 2-1 on their nine-game rodeo trip.
"I'm disappointed we didn't win," Popovich said, shrugging off the injuries. "I'm thinking we make a couple of 3s in the second half and we hang right in there, and that's the way you've got to look at it."
Nando De Colo started for Parker, but had to rush off the court bleeding from the nose after he was whacked while trying to defend Andrei Kirilenko. He returned in the second half wearing a mask, as Matt Bonner already was.
Bonner took another hit later and said he broke another bone in his nose.
Cory Joseph scored 18 for the Spurs, Danny Green had 17 and Patty Mills 16.
Paul Pierce had 12 points for the Nets, who have turned things around since the Spurs outclassed them 112-93 in San Antonio on New Year's Eve, leaving Brooklyn at 10-21. They are 12-4 in 2014 and have won two straight since dropping three in a row, all against division leaders.
"We've got the pieces," Anderson said. "We're finally starting to turn the corner a lot more lately. I just want to win no matter how much I'm playing."
The Spurs trotted out Green, Marco Belinelli, Tiago Splitter, Joseph and De Colo to start, an unheralded lineup similar to the one Popovich used when he sent Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Green home before another Thursday night nationally televised game at Miami early last season.
That decision cost the Spurs a $250,000 fine from former Commissioner David Stern, but Popovich didn't have much of a choice who he played this time.
Ginobili (left hamstring) and Leonard (broken bone in right hand) were already out, and Popovich noticed Parker laboring with a back injury during the first half Wednesday. Parker then sat the remainder of the game, and Duncan played a season-high 40 minutes, well more than Popovich prefers to use the 37-year-old forward and essentially mandating a night off Thursday.
Making matters worse, Boris Diaw then was vomiting during the day at the team hotel because of food poisoning and couldn't play.
"Really wishing that some of those guys were healthy right now," said Green, who played 35 minutes after logging 46 Wednesday. "It's always good to play a lot of minutes, but at the same time it would have been nice to have some of those guys healthy tonight."
The guys that were left raced to a 20-8 lead and were ahead the whole first quarter, settling for a 24-17 advantage. The Nets took a 40-39 lead into halftime when Williams made a jumper with 38 seconds remaining.
With the Nets leading by two late in the third, Anderson converted a three-point play, his first of seven straight Brooklyn points to end the quarter and give the Nets a 75-68 lead. He another three-point play with the Nets ahead by five in the fourth, and his 3-pointer made it 87-77 and the Nets were comfortably ahead from there.
"I thought he was taking wide-open shots. He was also being aggressive, driving the ball knowing that they didn't have any shot blocking," Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
Notes: The Nets' Joe Johnson and the Belinelli were announced Thursday as competitors in the 3-point contest at All-Star Saturday night. ... Parker and Ginobili also missed the Nets' previous victory in the series. The Nets haven't beaten the Spurs when those two played since Nov. 13, 2002, according to STATS.
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