Plenty of Fight

The San Antonio Spurs being in first place in the Western Conference this late in the season isn't unusual. Them having to fight off the New Orleans Hornets for that spot is.

The Spurs and Hornets close out their season series Wednesday at New Orleans Arena in a game that could decide which team earns the No. 1 seed for the conference playoffs.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New Orleans -2 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at X total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio +2 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

San Antonio (44-19) is trying to keep pace with the Lakers for the best record in the West, but the defending NBA champions are also trying to hold off Houston, Utah, New Orleans (42-20) and Phoenix for first place.

San Antonio avoided a third straight loss Monday with a 107-103 victory over Denver. Tim Duncan had 23 points and matched a season-high with 18 rebounds, while Manu Ginobili added 13 points and a career-high 14 assists.

The Spurs were coming off back-to-back road losses to the Nuggets and Suns.

"We're trying to play harder for 48 minutes than anybody else, and against Phoenix we didn't do that," Duncan said. "To bounce back today and have learned from yesterday's game is great for us."

Duncan and the Spurs have taken two of three against the Hornets this season, including a victory in the first New Orleans meeting in November. San Antonio has a one-game lead over Houston and a 1 1/2-game advantage over the Hornets in the Southwest Division.

A win Wednesday would give the Spurs the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Hornets, which could come into play in the crowded race for the top seed in the West.

The Spurs are 16-3 in their last 19, including a 98-89 home victory over the Hornets on Feb. 23 in the teams' most recent matchup. San Antonio, though, plays six of its next eight games on the road, a stretch that includes games at Detroit, Dallas and Orlando and a home game against Boston.

"Everybody who we are playing over these next five to 10 games seems to be on a hot streak of some sort," said Duncan, averaging 22.0 points and 10.3 rebounds this season against New Orleans. "We gotta gear it back up again."

The Hornets, looking to make the playoffs for the first time in four years, are also in the midst of a critical part of their schedule. They're coming off a 106-96 loss to the Rockets on Saturday that snapped a three-game winning streak.

The game was the first of three in a row against teams with better records than the Hornets. New Orleans faces the Lakers at home Friday, Detroit on Sunday and Houston and Boston next week.

On Saturday, Chris Paul had 37 points and 11 assists and Tyson Chandler added 15 points and 16 rebounds, but the Hornets lost for the second time in three games against the Rockets this season.

With the tough stretch coming up, New Orleans badly needs second-leading scorer David West back in the lineup. The forward was sidelined for a third straight game Saturday with a sprained left ankle. He's listed as day-to-day.

The Hornets have won four straight at home and are 22-10 at New Orleans Arena this season, but they've dropped their last four home meetings with San Antonio and nine of the last 10.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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