San Antonio (38-19) at Dallas (36-20)

Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 28° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Thu Feb 26, 2004
  • TV: TNT, TNT
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With several impressive road victories in the last few weeks, the San Antonio Spurs try for another when they visit the American Airlines Center to face the Dallas Mavericks.

The Spurs’ recent 6-1 road trip featured victories over Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota—three of the Western Conference’s top teams.

San Antonio, 8-1 in its last nine overall, now sets its sights on a Mavericks squad that is tied with the Kings for the NBA’s best home record at 25-4.

The Mavs have beaten the Spurs twice this season, including a 95-92 win in Dallas on Nov. 20, but have struggled against San Antonio’s top-ranked defense.

Dallas, second in the NBA with a 103.5 points-per-game average, is scoring just 88.0 points on 38.5 shooting (65-for-169) against the Spurs in 2003-04, including 10-of-42 from 3-point range.

“We’ve got to be a lot sharper against the Spurs,” All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki said.

“We match up pretty well,” he said. “Tim Duncan’s the MVP of the league, he makes them go. But they’ve also got some good young players who are playing well for them. It’s always fun to play them.”

San Antonio, allowing 83.7 points per game, returned from its road trip and put together another tough defensive effort in an 86-77 win over the Rockets at the SBC Center on Tuesday night.

Duncan had 27 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks for the Spurs, who held the Rockets to 33 points on 11-for-29 shooting in the second half.

“We’re just playing very well right now and you don’t change a good thing,” Duncan said.

Manu Ginobili added 21 points and five steals for San Antonio.

“Defensively we were great,” Ginobili said. “We played with the same aggressiveness as we did on the road. We didn’t make many mistakes.”

The Spurs can’t afford many mistakes against the Mavs, who have won 16 of their last 20 games and five straight at home.

Dallas got off to a fast start Tuesday, converting 10 of its first 11 field-goal attempts to take a 36-18 lead into the second quarter of a 116-91 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Nowitzki had 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, and reserve forward Antawn Jamison contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Mavs improved to 2-0 on a five-game homestand.

After Thursday’s matchup, the Spurs play four straight home games, completing the stretch against the Mavericks on March 5.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 24): Spurs - 2nd place, 3 GB, Midwest Division. Mavericks - 3rd place, 4 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Spurs - F Bruce Bowen, F Duncan, C Rasho Nesterovic, G Tony Parker, G Hedo Turkoglu. Mavericks - F Antoine Walker, F Josh Howard, C Nowitzki, G Michael Finley, G Steve Nash.

TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 23.2 ppg and 12.9 rpg; Parker, 5.4 apg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 21.4 ppg; Nowitzki and Walker, 8.9 rpg; Nash, 8.3 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 20; Mavericks, 95-92. At Dallas, the Mavs shot just 37 percent from the field and barely held on after building a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 19-12 on the road; Mavericks - 25-4 at home.

INJURIES: Spurs - G Alex Garcia (knee); F Sean Marks (knee); G Jason Hart (knee). Mavericks - G Travis Best (Achilles’); G-F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); G Jon Stefansson (ankle).

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