The San Antonio Spurs are pleased with the way they’re playing as the playoffs approach.
The Spurs return home after a solid five-game road trip when they host the Washington Wizards.
San Antonio beat the Los Angeles Lakers 96-85 on Thursday, wrapping up a 3-2 trip. Tim Duncan had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the defending champions, who have lost just four of their last 20 games.
“We’re healthy, we’re right where we want to be,” Duncan said. “We’re hitting a stride—I don’t know if it’s THE stride. We go through lulls. It’s about recovery. It’s about making adjustments on the fly.”
Tony Parker returned after missing his first game of the season because of a bruised right shin and had 19 points and six assists. But Beno Udrih, who started in his place in the previous game, didn’t play due to a sprained left ankle.
“We’ve got a good rhythm—Timmy’s playing better and better,” Parker said.
San Antonio pulled away with a 33-9 run to end the third quarter after allowing the Lakers to score the first nine points of the period.
“You kind of get a flow going there, and people step up,” Duncan said. “I thought Nazr (Mohammed) really stepped up at that point. And Tony made the defense collapse.
“It was just a team effort—it all works.”
With 10 games left to play, the Spurs lead the Western Conference by seven games over second place Phoenix, and trail Detroit by two games for the best record in the NBA.
“Winning on the road is really sweet. It’s the most fun in the league as far as I’m concerned,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “It’s always tough and it helps your team come together.”
The Wizards are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of sixth-place Milwaukee. They lost 105-103 to the Houston Rockets on Friday in their second defeat in five games.
“This is a game when Brendan would have helped,” said Antawn Jamison, who scored 28 points. “The big guy (Yao) earned his check and he put his team on his back and carried them.”
Gilbert Arenas, who missed Tuesday’s game at Sacramento with flu-like symptoms, had 27 points and 11 assists for his eighth double-double of the season.