The San Antonio Spurs have a tough schedule to close the regular season, so they realize the importance of taking advantage of games against some weaker opponents.
The Spurs look to win their sixth straight Friday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are fighting to stay out of the Western Conference cellar.
San Antonio (49-23), which is a game behind New Orleans for the best record in the West, won its fifth in a row Wednesday with a 97-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tim Duncan had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who shot 50.0 percent from the field while holding Los Angeles to 39.0 percent. However, they allowed the Clippers, who are in 11th place in the West, to remain close for much of the game until a late 10-0 run put it away.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to lose the game so we did what we had to in order to get the win,” said Tony Parker, averaging just 13.0 points on 29.8 percent shooting over the last three games.
After Friday’s game, the Spurs conclude a four-game homestand with matchups against Houston and Golden State. Those two opponents are among seven teams with winning records San Antonio must face over its final nine games of the season.
The Spurs are tied with Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers for the second-best record in the West, though the conference’s top six teams are separated by just three games.
“Every game is very important and every game can change the standings,” Parker said. “We have to take care of business every game.”
Duncan has posted double-doubles in all five games during the Spurs’ current win streak, which comes after they lost a season-high four straight.
After escaping with a win over the Clippers, San Antonio hopes for an easier time against the team directly below them in the standings.
Minnesota has the third-worst record in the West, ahead of only Memphis and Seattle, although it’s shown some improvement recently.
The Timberwolves have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games, with three of the four losses coming on the road, including Wednesday’s 97-86 defeat to Houston.
“We were kind of close but definitely we didn’t deserve to win the game,” Minnesota’s Marko Jaric said. “They played smarter than we did and they wanted it more. We lost the game on the rebounding end of the court.”
The Timberwolves are in the midst of a difficult stretch in their schedule against several playoff contenders. After Friday’s game against the Spurs, they return home to face Utah and Detroit before going back on the road to face the Jazz and the Suns.
With Wednesday’s loss, Minnesota fell to 5-29 on the road this season. The Timberwolves have the second-worst road record in the NBA, ahead of Memphis. They have lost seven straight in San Antonio, including a 105-88 loss on Jan. 12.