Despite the absences of some of their best players, the San
Antonio Spurs didn’t miss a beat during their first
back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season.
A difficult back-to-back road set, however, lies immediately
Playing for the fourth time in five days, the Southwest
Division-leading Spurs try to extend their winning streak to five
Tuesday night against the red-hot Phoenix Suns.
One night after Tony Parker missed Friday’s 104-87 win over
Dallas due to injury, Manu Ginobili rested during an 89-86 win at
New Orleans. San Antonio then played without a resting Tim Duncan
as it concluded its grueling stretch with a 93-76 rout of
Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Spurs (33-14) were also without Gary Neal for the last two
games and Tiago Splitter for the last three. While Neal and
Splitter are uncertain for Tuesday, Parker, Ginobili and Duncan
should be available.
“They show a lot of toughness, a lot of character to do that
three nights in a row with different combinations and different
players playing on each night,” coach Gregg Popovich said of his
team. “What’s really great is that they appreciate or are happy
with the success of their teammates.
“Whoever’s not playing isn’t hoping something bad happens so he
can get in the game or anything like. They really pull for each
Things aren’t about to get any easier for San Antonio, which has
won seven of eight – including four in a row by an average of 13.2
points. The Spurs have dropped three of four at US Airways Center
and on Wednesday, visit a Sacramento team that defeated them at the
AT&T Center on Jan. 20.
“We will play two tough teams,” said DeJuan Blair, who’s scored
a combined 42 points in the last two games. “We just need to go out
there and play Spurs basketball. We need to go out there and play
While the Spurs have struggled a bit at Phoenix of late, they’ve
taken four off five in the series overall, winning the most recent
meeting 102-91 on Jan. 15.
The Suns (25-24), however, have posted the league’s second-best
record since the All-Star break at 11-4 and just closed out a
four-game road trip with two straight wins. Phoenix beat Indiana
113-111 on Friday and blew out Cleveland 108-83 two days later.
“We owed it to ourselves to have a better performance,” said
point guard Steve Nash, who had 13 assists Sunday – four fewer than
the Cavaliers. ” … We’ve clawed back into the playoff picture and
we had to try and get one here.”
Despite his lack of scoring, the 10th-place Suns continue to
rely on Nash to lead the way. The eight-time All-Star, tops in the
league with 11.2 assists per contest, is averaging 13.0 points –
his lowest mark since scoring 8.6 per game in 1999-2000 with
“I think the goal is for our team to be able to read and react
to how people play,” said Nash, who scored four points Sunday.
“Some nights if they’re making me a scorer, I have to be aggressive
and score. Other nights when they’re trying to get the ball out of
my hands, we have to make them pay other ways.”
Averaging 96.9 points on the season, Phoenix has scored 103.1
per game in going 10-2 in its last 12 at home. The two losses
during that stretch have come by a combined five points.