NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, March 6th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (44-19) at San Antonio Spurs (51-11), 3:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A possible Western Conference finals preview is on tap Sunday afternoon when the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers visit a San Antonio Spurs team, shooting to extend its franchise-record 22-game home winning streak.
The Spurs, who possess the NBA's best record at 51-11, are at the top of the West standings with the Lakers currently occupying the third spot, 7 1/2 games south of San Antonio and two games short of Dallas.
The Spurs got a boost by the surprise return of star point guard Tony Parker on Friday. The dynamic quarterback ignored doctor's orders and returned early from a calf strain to score 15 points, as San Antonio shot the lights out for their 22nd straight victory as the host, a 125-95 thumping of the struggling Miami Heat.
Parker was expected to miss as much as a month of action but sat out just two games.
The Spurs buried a franchise-record 17 three-pointers en route to their fifth win in six games overall.
"This is a team that's clicking on all cylinders right now," Heat star LeBron James said of the Spurs. "Everyone on the team has confidence, Tim Duncan all the way down to the last guy off the bench. We saw tonight why they are the best team in the league."
Manu Ginobili led the way with 20 points and Matt Bonner hit six of San Antonio's 17 threes for 18 points. The Spurs were 17-of-28 from beyond the arc and 46-for-82 overall (56 percent).
"A ridiculous night," said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich. "It's very rare. We had it tonight and we're thankful for it. It made for a wonderful night."
The Spurs, who are now an NBA-best 29-2 at home this season and haven't lost in the Alamo City since Nov. 26 against Dallas, will finish a four-game homestand by hosting the Pistons and Kings after today's contest.
The Lakers, who are opening up a four-game road trip this afternoon, won their sixth straight game with a 92-84 win over Charlotte in LA on Friday. Kobe Bryant had 27 points and Pau Gasol scored 20 with 10 rebounds in that one.
Andrew Bynum filled the lane, setting season-highs with 17 rebounds and six blocked shots for the Lakers, who won easily despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor. Bryant scored his 27 points in just under 31 minutes, sitting out the entire fourth quarter with LA comfortably ahead.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher went out with a sprained left elbow, however, after getting tangled up with Charlotte center Kwame Brown under the basket with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter.
"It was physical," said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. "Neither team shot very well. I didn't like any part of tonight's game, but we got the job done and that's what matters."
The Lakers may have dodged a bullet on Fisher's injury, which looked bad in real time -- and then even worse in replays. Fisher, the NBA's active leader with 476 consecutive games played, received treatment from trainer Gary Vitti on Saturday and was able to practice with the team. His status for this afternoon's game was listed as probable.
Meanwhile, forward Matt Barnes, who had right knee surgery on Jan. 11 and has been out since suffering a torn lateral meniscus four days earlier, irritated his knee in pregame warm-ups during the Bobcats game. Barnes was able to practice Saturday and is listed as day-to day.
LA, which is 22-11 away from Staples Center, will also visit Atlanta, Miami and Dallas on what figures to be a daunting trip. Each of the Lakers four opponents on the trip owns one of the league's top 10 records.
The Spurs have won three straight regular season contests against the Lakers, including a pair of meetings this season.
03/06 10:35:38 ET