The San Antonio Spurs have won three straight games and already appear in midseason form.
The defending NBA champions look to improve upon the Western Conference’s best record as they play the Orlando Magic at the TD Waterhouse Centre.
The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 20.9 points, and all eight of his baskets in Saturday’s 100-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers came on layups.
“He’s been playing All-Star basketball the entire year,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “His maturity is really showing. He’s always aggressive.”
Parker is shooting 55.5 percent, 9.1 percent better than his career average. He leads guards in shooting percentage and is tied for fifth overall.
The Spurs are shooting a league-best 47.8 percent from the floor.
Brent Barry added a season-high 14 points, making 4 of 6 shots from 3-point range, after entering the game with just 24 points all season.
“I have been working on trying to find my rhythm and take good shots, Barry said. “When we move the ball side to side on offense, it creates more opportunities to get better shots and higher percentage shots. Finding a rhythm is about taking shots that you are used to taking.”
The Spurs have won eight of their last nine, holding opponents to 40.8 percent shooting during that stretch. The defense is limiting opponents to 90.4 points per game, good for fourth in the NBA.
That does not bode well for the Magic, who have lost three in a row and enter the game averaging an NBA-low 85.1 points. The Magic have struggled further without leading injured scorer and guard Steve Francis the last two games, averaging 76.5 points.
Orlando is coming off a 104-84 road loss Saturday to the Milwaukee Bucks and has been outscored by 51 points during its losing streak.
Francis, who averages 17.8 points, is questionable for this game due to a bruised chest. Jameer Nelson scored 20 points Saturday, and rookie guard Travis Diener, playing in just his second NBA game, was 5-for-6 from the field and added 14 points.
“It really doesn’t mean much,” said Diener, who played in Milwaukee collegiately for Marquette. “If we would have won and I would have had zero points it would be better than losing.”
Magic forward Dwight Howard had 14 points and 17 rebounds, his eighth game with 15 or more rebounds.
San Antonio has won 13 of the last 16 games between the teams and never lost a season series to Orlando.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 4): Spurs - 1st place, Southwest Division. Magic - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Parker, 20.9 ppg and 5.7 apg; Duncan, 11.9 rpg. Magic - Francis, 17.8 ppg and 6.2 apg; Howard, 12.9 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 22, 2004; Magic, 93-87. At Orlando, Francis scored 29 points as the Magic snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Spurs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 6-2 on the road; Magic - 4-4 at home.