San Antonio (41-21) at Phoenix (21-41)

  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Sat Mar 6, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Antonio Spurs know they can’t afford to let up on offense, especially with Tim Duncan out the lineup.

The defending NBA champions will again be without the reigning two-time NBA MVP when they meet the Phoenix Suns at America West Arena.

The Spurs are 3-1 since Duncan, San Antonio’s top scorer and rebounder, suffered a left knee joint injury on Feb. 26.

With Duncan watching from the sideline, the Spurs nearly squandered a 26-point lead before holding on for a 113-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

“When we were ahead we were playing aggressively,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. “They came back on us because we stopped being as aggressive. We can’t let that happen.”

Parker scored 25 points and Hedo Turkoglu added 21 for the Spurs, who led 86-60 entering the fourth quarter. Malik Rose, starting in Duncan’s place, contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach Gregg Popovich appeared visibly annoyed as the Mavs cut into the Spurs’ lead, but afterward he simply said, “All that matters is the win.”

With the victory, the Spurs moved within three games of the first-place Minnesota Timberwolves in the Midwest Division.

The Suns have won three of their last four, including an 87-74 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday. Amare Stoudemire scored 32 points to become the first Sun since Charles Barkley during the 1995-96 season to score at least 20 points in 10 consecutive games.

“The guys are very comfortable with me,” said Stoudemire, who has led the Suns in scoring in each of those 10 games. “They’ve got a lot of confidence in my game, so that gives me a lot of confidence and a comfort area on the offensive end.”

The Suns limited the Nets to 39.3 percent shooting and held a 46-33 rebounding advantage.

“We missed a lot of shots, but we really ground it out,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Defensively, we did everything we talked about and even more, and then Amare had a huge night and got us over the hump.”

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