Off to a strong start to the second half of the season, the San Antonio Spurs are looking to continue their push up the Western Conference standings. A matchup with the struggling Philadelphia 76ers should give them a good chance to do so.
San Antonio tries for its third win in Philadelphia since 1999 on Friday night when it takes on the 76ers, who are trying to get back on track following a season-high winning streak.
After closing the first half with a 111-92 victory over Northwest Division-leading Denver on Feb. 11, the Spurs (31-21) continued their eight-game road stretch with a 90-87 win over Indiana on Wednesday.
Tony Parker(notes), who missed the Denver game with a strained left hip flexor, scored 28 points in 39 minutes to keep San Antonio within a game of Southwest Division-leading Dallas. The Spurs have won three of four.
“I got tired in the second half and my hip was getting tired,” said Parker, who had 16 points and eight assists in a 97-89 win over the 76ers on Nov. 29. “We’ll see what we do for the next game, but overall I was OK.”
Parker and the Spurs have not fared well in Philadelphia lately. San Antonio has lost seven of nine road matchups with the 76ers since the 1999-2000 season.
In 10th place in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia (20-33) could use another strong effort against San Antonio after losing two straight following a season-best five-game winning streak.
Philadelphia fell 105-78 to Miami on Tuesday in its first game following the All-Star break. The 76ers shot 37.9 percent from the field in their most lopsided defeat since a 31-point loss to Boston on Nov. 3.
Iverson will face San Antonio in a 76ers uniform for the first time since piling up 42 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in a 103-100 overtime victory Feb. 15, 2006. He has averaged 28.8 points and 5.5 assists in 25 career games versus the Spurs.
Tim Duncan(notes), who would have taken the court against Iverson on Sunday if the 76ers guard didn’t pull out of the All-Star game, looks to bounce back from Wednesday’s 4-of-23 performance from the field. It was the worst shooting effort of Duncan’s career in games in which he had more than 18 attempts.
Duncan, though, grabbed 26 rebounds - 10 in the fourth quarter - and added five assists.
“That is what’s great with T.D. - even if he has a bad shooting night he’s always going to do other stuff,” Parker said.
Duncan had 22 points and six boards Nov. 29 and is averaging 24.5 and 11.4 in 12 career games in Philadelphia.
The home team has won the last five meetings in the series.