The San Antonio Spurs are doing everything they can to make sure their last game of the regular season has tremendous meaning.
San Antonio, battling for the league’s best record, looks to stretch its latest win streak to eight as it plays the Toronto Raptors in the middle game of its three-game road trip.
With seven games left in the regular season, the Spurs trail the Midwest Division-leading Dallas Mavericks by one game. San Antonio is also battling Sacramento for the NBA’s best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Spurs hope to be in position to take their third straight Midwest Division title when they host the Mavericks in the regular-season finale for both teams on April 16.
“They just whipped us and dominated the boards,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. “Then their key guy gave you an MVP game.”
Duncan, among the league leaders in points, rebounds, field-goal percentage and blocks, continues to make a strong case for his second straight MVP award. He is averaging 29.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in his last four games.
Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens avoided his NBA-record 1,017th loss Wednesday, as the Raptors posted a rare road win, 89-78 over the Eastern Conference-leading Detroit Pistons.
“I’m perfectly happy to make the media follow me around for one more night,” said Wilkens, who broke the record for career victories in 1995. “I don’t think the guys were trying to win this one for me, though. I certainly didn’t ask them to do it.”
Williams, who had two rebounds in Tuesday’s home loss to Detroit, had 14 in Wednesday’s first half.
“I felt like I needed to redeem myself after a terrible game last night,” he said. “The difference tonight was our intensity. In a lot of games, we only play hard in spurts, but tonight we had it going all game long.”
STANDINGS: Spurs - 2nd place, 1 GB, Midwest Division. Raptors - 7th place, 23 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 23.8 ppg and 12.9 rpg; Parker, 5.4 apg. Raptors - Carter, 20.5 ppg; Jerome Williams, 9.2 rpg; Alvin Williams, 5.4 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Spurs, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 1; Spurs, 91-72. At San Antonio, Duncan scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half and grabbed 15 rebounds, and the Spurs held the Raptors to just six points in the fourth quarter.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 24-13 on the road. Raptors - 15-22 at home.
INJURIES: Spurs - C Mengke Bateer (tendinitis). Raptors - C Antonio Davis (groin); C Eric Montross (foot); F Lamond Murray (foot).