When ESPN selected Wednesday’s game between the Spurs and Chicago for national broadcast back in August, it’s a safe bet executives at the four-letter network were anticipating a marquee point guard matchup.

Instead, America got Cory Joseph vs. Nate Robinson.

Life without Tony Parker still has the potential to be tricky for the Spurs. Life without Derrick Rose has already been trickier for the Bulls.

“More than anything, you depend on the professionalism and the character of your players to carry on,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before his team rode a huge fourth-quarter to a 101-83 win at the AT&T Center. “There are two choices. You can cry and moan, or you can compete.”

For the second game in a row, with their leading scorer and assist man sidelined with a sprained ankle, the Spurs chose the latter option.

In a contest Popovich later said “looked a lot like a playoff game,” the Spurs outscored Chicago 54-31 after halftime to overcome an early 14-point deficit and improve to an NBA-best 48-14.

With Manu Ginobili taking over Parker’s playmaking (18 points, nine assists) and Tim Duncan anchoring the defense (18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks), the Spurs remained three games up on Oklahoma City in the Western Conference race.

“That’s a championship team right there,” Chicago center Joakim Noah said. “They do all the little things.”

When Parker went down last Friday, the initial prognosis called for him to miss up to four weeks. The All-NBA candidate has told associates he plans to beat that timetable.