Sizzling San Antonio will continue its quest for the Midwest Division title as it hosts Orlando, which is beginning a three-game road trip through Texas.
The Spurs have been the hottest team in the league during the last month, winning 14 of their 17 games, including going 6-0 on the road. San Antonio has climbed two games behind Dallas for the lead in the division and the best record in the NBA.
San Antonio has nine games remaining, including a season-ending matchup with Dallas.
With Sunday’s 92-90 win over New Orleans, San Antonio has won five straight and eight of its last 10 games. Tim Duncan finished with 33 points and 12 rebounds, including a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left. He gave the Spurs a scare when he twisted his right ankle early in the fourth quarter.
“I was a little worried when he went down,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “I told him we didn’t want any heroes and if he couldn’t play, he couldn’t play. He looked at me like I was crazy so we left him in the game and thank goodness we did.”
While San Antonio is chasing the league’s best record, the Magic are trying to improve their position. Orlando is in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, trailing fifth place New Orleans by two games and sixth place Boston by a game.
The Magic begin their Texas trip in San Antonio, before heading to Dallas and Houston this weekend.
Orlando comes to Texas off a tough 118-113 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Monday.
“I told our guys in the locker room that we just played playoff basketball—and we didn’t pass the first test,” Magic coach Doc Rivers said.
The Magic will need a better rebounding effort if they hope to defeat the Spurs.
“You look at the numbers and they’re staggering,” Rivers said. “We held a team to 43 percent shooting with 26 offensive rebounds, so what it tells you is that you played great defense initially but you kept giving them the ball back and they kept scoring.”
“I love our big men to death, but we’ve got to do something,” McGrady said. “We can’t allow a team to outrebound us by 23.”
STANDINGS: Magic - 4th place, 7 GB, Atlantic Division. Spurs - 2nd place, 2 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Magic - McGrady, 32.3 ppg and 5.5 apg; Hill, 7.1 rpg. Spurs - Duncan, 23.7 ppg and 12.9 rpg; Parker, 5.4 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Spurs, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 31; Spurs, 109-108. At Orlando, McGrady scored 12 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, but he missed a potential winning shot at the buzzer. Robinson scored a season-high 20 points, including two go-ahead free throws with 26.9 seconds to play, as the Spurs had six players score in double figures.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Magic - 15-20 on the road; Spurs - 30-7 at home.
INJURIES: Magic - F Pat Burke (knee); F Drew Gooden (toe). Spurs - C Mengke Bateer (tendinitis).