Suns-Spurs Game Preview: April 14
Posted: April 14, 2012
While most seem to wonder when Tim Duncan will call it a career and wait for his Hall of Fame induction, he continues to be a key part of the aging San Antonio Spurs' unexpected success.
The Phoenix Suns know all too well that he's still capable of putting up big numbers.
San Antonio seeks its sixth straight home victory over Phoenix when the teams meet Saturday night.
Following losses to Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday and Wednesday, Duncan tied his season high with 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Thursday to lead the Spurs (41-16) to a 107-97 home win over Memphis.
After coach Gregg Popovich rested the 35-year-old Duncan, 34-year-old Manu Ginobili and 11th-year veteran Tony Parker on Monday, and Ginobili and Parker combined to shoot 5 for 20 in Wednesday's loss, Duncan stepped up Thursday.
"We got back on track. That was the key to the whole thing, getting back on track," Duncan said. "Played awful against the Lakers. Got blown out, came back in there (Thursday) against another good team. A much better effort."
The Spurs are one game behind Oklahoma City for the Western Conference's top seed but are tied in the loss column with two games in hand after Duncan's heroics.
The veteran has played similarly well in each meeting with Phoenix this season for the Spurs, who have won 17 of the last 21 regular-season meetings. Duncan had 24 points and 11 rebounds Jan. 15 in San Antonio's 102-91 home victory over the Suns, and 26 points with 11 boards March 27 in Phoenix. The Spurs won that contest 107-100, overcoming a career-high 32 points from Suns guard Shannon Brown.
Marcin Gortat scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds Friday, while Nash added 18 points and 10 assists in the Suns' 112-105 win at Houston, helping Phoenix (31-28) pull within one game of both the Rockets and Denver Nuggets, who currently hold the West's final two playoff spots.
Phoenix is 19-9 since Feb. 19 and has won six of its last eight as it seeks to avoid missing the playoffs for the third time in four years.
"It was a huge win for us. Every game is big and we didn't play great in the first half," said Grant Hill, who scored four points Friday after missing the previous nine games due to surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. "We just came out with a sense of urgency in the third quarter."
Nash is averaging 11.1 assists per game - second in the league to Boston's Rajon Rondo - and is averaging 17.4 points and 10.4 assists in his last 20 regular-season games against the Spurs.
San Antonio has defeated the Suns five straight times at home since Phoenix's 103-98 victory Oct. 29, 2008.
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