The San Antonio Spurs have enjoyed beating up on the Eastern Conference the last few weeks.
On Thursday, the red-hot Spurs close out the East-heavy portion of their schedule when they host the Indiana Pacers.
San Antonio (42-17) has won a season-high 10 straight, including Tuesday’s 81-70 victory over New Jersey that completed a sweep of a home-and-home series. The Spurs have played seven of their last 10 games against teams from the East, and five of those contests were against clubs with losing records - including both against the Nets.
San Antonio, though, heads into Thursday’s game following one of its worst offensive games of the season.
The Spurs shot just 33.8 percent from the field - their second-worst shooting game of the season - and scored their fewest points since an 83-81 loss to Houston on Jan. 19.
Nets coach Lawrence Frank said the dismal shooting shows just how impressive the Spurs are.
“Think about this. They won the game shooting 33 percent,” Frank said. “That just shows you how good they are. Those guys are the gold standard.”
Coach Gregg Popovich said Duncan carried the Spurs, who are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the Western Conference lead. Duncan was 11-of-21 from the field after scoring 22 points in his previous two games combined.
“If Tim Duncan didn’t play the way he played tonight a whole lot of people would have wasted a whole lot of money tonight,” Popovich said. “He was special and he got it done for us.”
The Pacers (24-37) will be facing a team on an extended winning streak for the second straight night after losing 117-99 at Houston on Wednesday. Indiana trailed by 17 at halftime and despite threatening in the third quarter, was unable to catch the Rockets, who won their 16th straight.
“They are a really good basketball team and we didn’t have it,” coach Jim O’Brien said. “(Tracy) McGrady got them started and then their momentum became a snowball effect.”
Dunleavy, who was 4-of-9 from the field with six assists, scored his fewest points in seven games. The Pacers’ second-leading scorer (18.1) came into Wednesday averaging 27.8 points in his previous six games.
“We have to find a way to do better,” he said.
The Spurs have won five straight and eight of their last nine home games against the Pacers, who haven’t won in San Antonio since a 92-82 victory on Jan. 4, 2002.
San Antonio beat Indiana 116-89 on Feb. 5 at Conseco Fieldhouse as seven players scored in double figures, including Duncan, who had 19 points and 15 rebounds. He is averaging 20.8 points and 11.4 rebounds in 18 career games versus Indiana.