Spurs vs. Mavericks Preview: 12/23/12
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SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Spurs are at full strength after getting a couple of key pieces back earlier this week.
The same can't be said for a Dallas Mavericks team dealing with more than its fair share of injuries.
Looking to stay unbeaten at home this month, San Antonio tries to hand Dallas a season-worst fifth consecutive road loss Sunday night as these Southwest Division rivals square off for the first time.
After dropping four of five and playing six of their previous seven on the road, the Spurs (20-8) beat New Orleans 99-94 in the opener of a four-game homestand Friday. Tony Parker compiled 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting while Tim Duncan scored 15 to go along with 10 rebounds for San Antonio, which shot 51.3 percent and outscored the Grizzlies 25-5 in transition.
Kawhi Leonard, who started the first nine games, had eight points and two steals in 20 minutes off the bench in his first action since missing over a month with right knee tendinitis. Stephen Jackson added five points in his third game back from a broken finger.
"It was great to be back (at home), and it is going to take a little time getting used to having those guys back," Duncan said. "A lot of adjustments right now, but it is good to be home and good to have everybody back to full strength."
The Mavericks (12-15), meanwhile, continue to play without former league MVP Dirk Nowitzki and could be missing a slew of other players Sunday.
Derek Fisher (strained right knee) is expected to sit for a third straight game while Elton Brand (strained right groin) and Darren Collison (illness) are both uncertain to play. Collison had been starting in place of Fisher but played just over 10 minutes and sat out the entire second half of Friday's 92-82 loss at Memphis.
Dallas, which fell 110-95 to Miami the night before, committed 24 turnovers and shot just 40.8 percent against the Grizzlies but still managed to keep it close down the stretch.
"I was very pleased," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We were undermanned, coming off of a late night back-to-back. The guys really hung in and gave what they could give. I was really happy with how everybody fought. There's not much consolation when you lose, but the effort was good."
Things aren't about to get any easier for Dallas with a visit to San Antonio in store. The Mavericks, who've dropped five of six overall and four straight on the road, have been outscored by an average of 17.0 points during a three-game skid at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs have typically dominated opponents on their own court, going 9-2 while allowing 93.4 points per game. San Antonio is 5-0 at home this month and has won 21 consecutive December home games dating to 2009.
Slowing down Parker, whose 19.0-scoring average is his highest since 2008-09, could prove crucial for Dallas if it hopes to keep up Sunday. Parker's 50.4 field-goal percentage ranks second among point guards, and the Spurs are 14-0 this season when he shoots at least 47.0 percent from the floor.
He had eight points in the final 5:36 against Memphis.
"Tony has been doing that all season," coach Gregg Popovich said. "He is having a great year. He really feels the responsibility down the stretch in games to get something done. If we are a little bit flat or not making shots, that kind of thing, he has stepped up and been very confident in those situations."
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