Indiana (28-10) at San Antonio (25-11)

Cloudy Currently: San Antonio, TX
Temp: 46° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Sat Jan 10, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Indiana Pacers own the best record in the NBA, but the defending league champion San Antonio Spurs have been the best team since early December.

The two will go head-to-head for the first time this season as they meet at the SBC Center.

The Pacers are an NBA-best 18 games above .500, while the Spurs have gone a league-leading 16-1 since Dec. 3.

The matchup also features two of the league’s top defensive teams. San Antonio is allowing a league-low 82.3 points, while the Pacers are giving up just 84.7 per game, fourth overall.

Indiana is trying to sweep a two-game road trip in Texas following a 92-80 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

The Pacers did a number on the Mavs defensively, holding them to just 36 percent shooting from the floor and more than 22 points below their season scoring average.

“For the last two days, transition defense is all we’ve talked about,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “We had good effort in that area.”

Ron Artest scored 26 points, and Jermaine O’Neal and Al Harrington added 17 apiece as the Pacers won their seventh straight. They are one shy of their season high, recorded from Nov. 14-28.

The Spurs are coming in off a strong defensive game of their own on Friday as they limited New Orleans to 32 percent shooting in a 94-84 road victory.

San Antonio shot 52 percent, and got double-figure scoring from seven players as it won for the 32nd time in its last 34 games against Eastern Conference opponents.

Tim Duncan led the way with 15 points and seven rebounds. He remained tied with Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett for the NBA lead in double-doubles with 29.

The Spurs signed defensive-minded Charlie Ward on Friday after the point guard was waived by the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 6. Ward spent his first 10 NBA seasons with the New York Knicks before being traded to Phoenix as a part of a multiplayer deal on Monday.

Ward averaged 8.7 points, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 35 games for the Knicks this season. He will be the backup to Tony Parker.

”(Ward) is a veteran leader and a proven winner,” San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford said. “He is a well-rounded player who can impact the game on both offense and defense.”

The Spurs swept the Pacers last season, and have won nine of the last 11 meetings in the series.

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