March 11, 2011
KINGS (15-47) vs.
SAN ANTONIO (52-12)
Coverage begins at 5:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Any concerns that Tony Parker returned too soon from a calf strain were alleviated in one of the San Antonio Spurs' most impressive offensive games of the season.
Parker and the NBA-leading Spurs could put up similar numbers Friday night when they try to win their 11th straight over the last-place Sacramento Kings.
San Antonio (52-12) was expected to be without Parker for a month, but he missed only two games before returning last Friday against Miami.
After totaling 29 points his first two games back, Parker finished with 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting in a 111-104 win over Detroit on Wednesday. He scored five points in the final 2:07 after Detroit cut a once 19-point deficit to five.
"There were a couple times in the game where he took over," Manu Ginobili said of Parker. "I remember one play that (coach Gregg Popovich) told me to go sub in, but he was playing so well that he told me to wait two more minutes and see what happens, so he finished the quarter and in the fourth quarter he just finished the game, so he was huge."
The Spurs, who shot a season-high 64.3 percent, were 17 of 21 from the field in the first quarter en route to a 40-26 lead.
With the win, San Antonio became the first team in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff spot.
The Spurs are looking to win their 11th straight over Sacramento after extending the streak with a 113-100 victory Feb. 4. The Spurs shot 57.1 percent and received 25 points from Parker.
Just as they did versus Detroit, San Antonio got off to a fast start against the Kings, leading 34-19 after the first quarter.
"Hopefully we face the Kings the same way we did (Wednesday)," Ginobili said. "Starting hard, moving the ball and playing good 'D' solid. ... We know that when you give a team confidence and they start playing relaxed and they don't have anything to lose, they can get you in trouble and you can get up losing a game that you shouldn't. So hopefully we start hard and play our usual style."
Parker has been key in San Antonio's dominance of Sacramento, averaging 23.7 points and 8.5 assists the last six games in which he's played at least 20 minutes.
The Kings (15-47), who have the worst record in the West, have lost four straight, falling 106-102 to Orlando on Wednesday. They led by six with less than six minutes remaining, but the Magic went on a 13-4 run to regain control.
REWIND: Kings blow late lead, fall to Magic
The loss came despite a career-high 29 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 22 from Marcus Thornton. Sacramento finished with 21 turnovers.
"There were so many really good things about that game for our team. I just hate to come in here and talk about that close loss against a good team, but that's what it was," said coach Paul Westphal, whose team has lost 14 of 17. "We had too many turnovers again and it wasted a really, really, good effort."
The Kings played Wednesday without Beno Udrih, who sat out his first game of the season with the flu. He's expected back in the lineup Friday.
Despite his team's struggles, Cousins has played well the last four games, averaging 23.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. However, he was limited to seven points in 24 minutes against the Spurs last month.
Sacramento has lost seven straight in San Antonio since a 97-87 victory in 2006.