The San Antonio Spurs look for their 12th straight win as they continue their push for the top seed in the Western Conference against the streaking Phoenix Suns in a possible first-round playoff preview at America West Arena.
The Spurs kept their winning streak alive Friday, knocking the Seattle SuperSonics out of the playoff hunt with a 94-86 victory.
San Antonio can clinch first place in the West, the best record in the NBA and home-court advantage throughout the postseason with wins against the Suns and the Utah Jazz on Monday.
The Spurs are 1 1/2 games ahead of second-place Dallas, which lost to the Jazz 95-92 on Friday. San Antonio closes out its regular season Wednesday against the Mavericks.
“This one was ugly in the second half,” said Tony Parker, who had 16 points.
Manu Ginobili had 15 points, and Speedy Claxton added 13 for San Antonio.
The Suns also have a lot riding on Sunday’s game: a win would guarantee them a spot in the postseason.
Phoenix could also clinch a playoff berth with a Houston loss. The Rockets beat the Sonics 101-86 on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a big game, but we need to win our way into the playoffs,” Amare Stoudemire said. “That’s not guaranteed.”
The Suns will likely be the eighth seed in the West, meaning that they will meet the Spurs in the first round if San Antonio clinches the conference.
“We’re staying in the moment,” coach Frank Johnson said. “We’re not looking behind us at what happened, and we’re not looking ahead. We are just focused on the game at hand.”
On Friday, the Suns knocked the Golden State Warriors out of playoff contention with a 117-101 win—their third straight victory and fifth in six games.
Penny Hardaway, who picked up his first triple-double since 2001 in Wednesday’s 112-89 win over the Mavericks, had a season-high 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Golden State, which also eliminated the Sonics with Friday’s win.
“I think he’s one of the top guys in the league for seeing the court,” said Stoudemire, who scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth.
“Everybody on the team is contributing right now,” Hardaway said.
STANDINGS: Spurs - 1st place, Midwest Division. Suns - 4th place, 14 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 23.3 ppg and 13 rpg; Parker, 5.3 apg. Suns - Marbury, 22.6 ppg and 8.2 apg; Marion, 9.7 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Suns, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 4; Suns, 104-97. At San Antonio, Marbury had 35 points and 13 assists, while the Suns shot 59.1 percent from the floor and an NBA season-high 76.9 percent from the 3-point line. Duncan led the Spurs with 35 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 26-13 on the road; Suns - 29-11 at home.