Heavyweights clash as Pacers, Spurs meet in San Antonio
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the league's very best will battle in the biggest matchup thus far of the regular season Saturday night when the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs night meet at the AT&T Center.
The Pacers own the NBA's best record and San Antonio isn't far behind with the third-best mark in the league.
Saturday's battle should be a defensive one as the Pacers are first in the league in opponents' scoring and San Antonio is third.
"We have to play very, very well," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "This is a solid, very aggressive, well-rounded team; really well-coached, really disciplined and very committed to where they want to be at the end of the game."
The Pacers are in the midst of a brutal road trip where they are 2-1. They beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, then fell in another marquee matchup to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Indiana got back into the win column with a 95-86 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. They still have to visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, then return home to face the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
"It's a great opportunity for our team to grow and compete against some of the better teams in the NBA," said Pacers forward David West.
Against the Jazz, Paul George was his amazing self with 19 points. He led six Pacers in double figures including, West, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, George Hill and Luis Scola.
The Pacers shot 47.6 percent from the field, but struggled badly from beyond the arc. Indiana went 3-for-16 for 18.8 percent. They did hold the Jazz to 41 percent.
If Indiana is to vault into the true elite of the league, beating San Antonio would be a good place to start. It won't be easy. The Spurs have won 10 straight against the Pacers and 11 in a row at home.
The Spurs have been idle since Monday night when they gutted out a 102-100 home win over the Atlanta Hawks.
San Antonio was supposed to play the Minnesota Timberwolves in Mexico City on Wednesday, but the game was postponed when a generator malfunction outside the arena caused the building to fill with smoke. That game will be rescheduled in Minnesota at a later date.
The Spurs had lost two of three until the win over the Hawks. Tim Duncan hit a go-ahead jumper with 0.4 seconds left to polish off a night of 23 points and 21 rebounds.
"He did a great job. We were having a tough night in a lot of ways and he was superb," Popovich said of his future Hall of Famer.
Duncan led San Antonio, but it was a great group effort on Monday. Boris Diaw had 16 off the bench and Tony Parker added 15. Marco Belinelli, Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili also scored in double figures for the Spurs.
Splitter wouldn't have played in Mexico with tightness in his left calf. He practiced on Friday, but without contact and his coach didn't sound optimistic he'd be out there to battle the mammoth frontline of the Pacers.
"I don't think it looks good," Pop said.
After this tough matchup, the Spurs play six of their next seven on the road, including a four-game jaunt west.
The Pacers last won in San Antonio on Jan. 4, 2002.
12/07 10:47:45 ET