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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 24th (All times eastern)

San Antonio Spurs (31-14) at New Orleans Hornets (12-35), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - With or without Tony Parker, the San Antonio Spurs are slowly closing in on another Southwest Division crown as they arrive in the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Hornets.

The Spurs, who are in the middle of a brutal three games in three nights stretch, have a comfortable six-game lead in the division after dispensing of Dallas, 104-87, without Parker on Friday. Tim Duncan recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in that one.

Danny Green added 18 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Spurs, who have won two in a row and five of six overall. Matt Bonner and Kawhi Leonard donated 14 and 12 points, respectively. San Antonio also got a lift from newly signed forward Boris Diaw, who played 16 minutes.

Parker (strained hamstring) and forward Tiago Splitter (back spasms) both missed the contest and are day-to-day.

"I thought the overall team defense was pretty good. That was probably the best part of the game. No matter who was out there, we were pretty aggressive," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said.

San Antonio, which is currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, will finish its back-to-back-to-back stretch by hosting Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Hornets, meanwhile, are coming off perhaps their biggest win of the season, a 97-90 triumph over Chris Paul and the Clippers on Thursday. Chris Kaman had 20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in that one as New Orleans rallied in the second half to down Los Angeles.

Jason Smith added 17 points and eight rebounds before being ejected late in the fourth quarter for a flagrant 2 foul thanks to a football-like tackle on the Clippers' Blake Griffin, while Jarrett Jack contributed 17 points and nine assists in the Hornets' second win in three games.

"Although we certainly don't teach or condone the flagrant fouls, I do understand in the heat of the moment things happen," Hornets head coach Monty Williams said about Smith.

The NBA suspended Smith on Friday for two games without pay for the incident.

Paul recorded 16 points and nine assists in his first game back in NOLA against his former team. Paul, of course, was drafted by the Hornets with the fourth overall pick in 2005 and averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 assists over 425 career games with New Orleans.

The Hornets have lost nine of 11 against the Spurs, including two meetings this season.

03/24 10:52:42 ET


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