Friday Night Fight: Pistons at Spurs
If his last game is any indication, Tim Duncan is ready for the season's stretch run.
While Duncan had 33 points and 29 rebounds in losses to Milwaukee and Boston - the East's two worst teams - following a season-best 13-game winning streak, there seemed to be something missing from the Spurs (47-20), who are a distant second to Dallas in the Southwest Division but still own a three-game lead over Northwest-leading Utah in the race for the third seed in the Western Conference.
Oddsmakers have made San Antonio -5.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 175
The 7-foot center, though, took an aggressive role Wednesday night in helping San Antonio avoid a season high-tying third loss in a row. He made 11 of 16 shots and finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and three assists as the Spurs limited the Indiana Pacers to 35.4 percent shooting from the floor en route to a 90-72 victory.
"I thought Timmy was very focused,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He was very aggressive with the ball. He wasn't looking for other people and worrying about getting other people involved. He just was demonstrative offensively.''
Duncan may be looking for better things against the Pistons (43-24), who lead the Central Division by 2 1/2 games over Cleveland with 15 remaining and have a game in hand on the Cavaliers.
"We need to get in playoff mode and those are the kind of teams we want to play to do that," said Duncan, who has averaged 20.1 points and 11.9 rebounds in 18 lifetime regular-season games against the Pistons. "They will push us to another level and we need to play on that level consistently.
"You get against those teams you know you're going to have to bring your focus and your game for 48 minutes and usually it helps us get in the right rhythm."
The Pistons began a three-game road swing with a 91-85 defeat at Houston on Thursday. Guard Chauncey Billups - who had missed the previous two games with a groin injury - had 13 points and helped rally Detroit within six in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to prevent his team's six-game road winning streak from ending.
``It was tight early and then it started loosening up after the half and then I attacked the basket,'' said Billups, who scored 11 points in the second half after taking a wrap off the injured groin.
At 23-11, the Pistons are the only team in the East with a winning road record, and Thursday's loss was just their third in the last 15 games away from home.
"We are a good team and that is how we should look at it," said Pistons forward Chris Webber, who had six points and seven rebounds. "I love playing against the best teams and players because that is what it is all about. We are getting ready for the playoffs and these games get us ready."
Detroit is 13-3 in the back end of games on consecutive days, including a 5-2 road record.
Duncan had 23 points, Manu Ginobili added 20 off the bench and Francisco Elson had 12 and a career-high 18 rebounds in San Antonio's 90-81 victory at Detroit on Feb. 14. Billups had 19 points and Richard Hamilton 20 for the Pistons, who were outrebounded 45-35.
The Spurs have not swept a season series from the Pistons since the 2002-03 season en route to the second of three NBA titles.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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