Kings-Spurs Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 11, 2013
The injury-ravaged San Antonio Spurs have been forced to try and get healthier while continuing their quest for the top seed in the Western Conference. Perhaps they'll be able to do both in a home date against a team they've dominated in recent years. The Spurs, who have one of the league's best home records at 34-5, continue their pursuit of home-court advantage throughout the West on Friday night against the Sacramento Kings. San Antonio (57-21) has been struggling through its recent injury epidemic and dropped its fourth in six games with Wednesday's 96-86 loss at Denver. The Spurs are locked in a tight race with Oklahoma City for first place in the West with just four games remaining. Playing without Tony Parker (sore neck), Boris Diaw (back), Stephen Jackson (ankle) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring), the Spurs scored a season-low 37 in the first half, shot 40.2 percent overall and made 4 of 21 from 3-point range against the Nuggets. "When you're that bad from the 3-point line and you turn it over at the same time, people make runs," Gregg Popovich told the team's official website. While the Spurs have won 11 of 15 without Parker, they could get the All-Star point guard back Friday. Parker, who has only played in eight games since March 1, is expected to be a game-time decision. Tim Duncan has tried to pick up some of the slack, averaging 22.5 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last 12 games. Danny Green has given Sacramento trouble lately, totaling 36 points while shooting 8 of 14 from beyond the arc in the last two meetings. San Antonio hopes to get back on track by sweeping the season series and beat the Kings for the 25th time in 27 meetings dating back to the 2006 playoffs. The Spurs have also won 17 of 19 at home by an average of 12.6 points. The Kings (28-50), 8-30 on the road, play their first away from Sacramento since winning back-to-back road games March 27-28. They're beginning a difficult three-game road trip that continues with stops in Houston and Oklahoma City. "All these teams we're going to be playing are fighting," guard Marcus Thornton said. "San Antonio is fighting for the (top) seed. We feel like if we come out and play hard we can be right there with those teams." John Salmons had 22 points, while Thornton added 20 as Sacramento shot 55.3 percent and made 10 of 20 from beyond the arc to snap a four-game losing streak with a 121-110 home win over New Orleans on Wednesday. Thornton may be able to keep rolling in this contest since he's averaging 19.5 points on 48.4 percent shooting in his last four games against the Spurs. Guard Isaiah Thomas has averaged 16.7 points in this season series, and 20.4 while making 19 of 47 from 3-point range in his last eight overall. The Kings have scored 105.5 per game on 45.6 percent shooting over their last six, but face a San Antonio defense that has limited them to 96.7 and 39.5, respectively, in the three meetings. The Spurs have averaged 115.8 points on 54.0 percent shooting during their five-game winning streak in this series.
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