After a brief slump before the All-Star break, the San Antonio Spurs have bounced back with the best second-half record in the NBA. They try to maintain their hot play when they host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
San Antonio (56-21), which dropped four of its final seven contests before the break, has won 10 of its last 11 to improve to 21-3 since All-Star weekend - tops in the NBA.
The Spurs are a combined 44-10 after the All-Star break over the last two seasons, also the best mark in the league.
“Everybody feels the same way, they want to start the playoffs,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team has five games left before starting its 10th consecutive postseason. “We can use this time to work on a few things, but no matter how you slice it, people are thinking playoffs.”
The Spurs won their fourth straight game Monday, defeating Portland 112-96 behind 30 points from Tony Parker. Parker made 12 of his 16 field goal attempts, and is shooting 52.4 percent from the field this season, the second-best mark in the NBA for a starting guard behind Phoenix’s Steve Nash.
Parker has shot a combined 53.6 percent from the field in the last two seasons, after failing to crack the 49 percent barrier in any of his first four years in the league. He credits an improved mid-range shot for his recent success.
“That’s the shot I’m going to need in the playoffs because there’s going to be a lot of people in the paint, so I try to find the mid-range and try to find different ways to be aggressive,” Parker said.
Parker might not have too much trouble against a Sacramento team that is among the league’s worst in field-goal percentage defense.
The Kings offense, however, is far more effective. Sacramento (32-45) has scored at least 100 points in eight of its last nine games, including Tuesday’s 112-100 win over Memphis.
Sacramento, which won for the second time in three games, built a 26-point lead in the first quarter with a 25-0 run - the NBA’s second-longest streak of unanswered points this season.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that,” Kings forward Ron Artest said. “That was fun to be a part of. I didn’t even score a bucket in that, and I was having fun.”
Mike Bibby had 25 points and seven assists, and Brad Miller pulled out of a slump with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, his third career triple-double. Miller had reached double figures in scoring in only one of his previous nine games.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak on the road for the Kings, who are just 12-27 away from home on the season.
San Antonio, meanwhile, is 30-9 at home and has won eight in a row there.
The Spurs are 4-1 at home against Sacramento over the last three seasons, and have won eight of 10 games overall in the series in that span. They have won also all three meetings this year heading into Wednesday’s series finale.