The Spurs hope their success continues without Duncan as they visit the Memphis Grizzlies.
“The way the team is performing in Timmy’s absence, I’m very pleased,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “It’s made us a more solid club since Timmy’s been out.”
Duncan, the reigning two-time NBA MVP, has been on the disabled list for five games with an injured left knee. However, the Spurs are 4-1 in his absence. Duncan has missed a total of eight games this season, but San Antonio has won six of them.
The victory moved San Antonio within two games of Midwest Division-leading Minnesota.
With Duncan sidelined, Nesterovic and Parker have carried the Spurs.
“Rasho has really stepped up his game,” Rose said. “With Timmy out, he’s really blossomed.”
Nesterovic, who was averaging 8.6 points before facing the Suns, scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished the game only one shy of his season high.
“I am just relaxing,” Nesterovic said. “Even when he (Duncan) is going to be back, you don’t have to score much to help your team.”
One of the Spurs’ two losses without Duncan came against Memphis on March 1, 81-80.
Memphis has been one of the NBA’s hottest teams since Feb. 1, winning 14 of 17 and five straight.
The Grizzlies won their franchise-record fourth straight road game despite playing without injured starters Lorenzen Wright and Mike Miller. Memphis, which beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, plays six of its next seven games at home.
“It’s exciting for our team to come out and win all four games on the road trip,” Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said. “Every one of the games was decided by our defense from the middle of the third quarter until the end of the game.”
STANDINGS (through March 7): Spurs - 2nd place, 2 GB, Midwest Division. Grizzlies - 4th place, 5 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 23.2 ppg and 13 rpg; Parker, 5.2 apg. Grizzlies - Gasol, 17.5 ppg and 7.7 rpg; Williams, 6.9 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Grizzlies, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 1; Grizzlies, 81-80. At San Antonio, Wright provided the margin of victory for the Grizzlies when he put back his own missed 4-footer with 19.2 seconds remaining. The Spurs were unable to get a shot off in their final possession.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 20-13 on the road; Grizzlies - 23-8 at home.