Orlando (53-22) at San Antonio (45-29)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: San Antonio, TX
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EDT Fri Apr 2, 2010
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The San Antonio Spurs suffered an ugly loss to the Orlando Magic last month with Tony Parker(notes) out due to injury.

While Parker isn’t ready to return, the Spurs have showed they can put together a good offensive performance without him.

On Friday, the Spurs host the Magic, who are looking to win their fourth straight and close in on securing the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

San Antonio (45-29) is 9-5 and averaged 101.9 points since Parker suffered a broken right hand, slightly above its season mark of 101.1 per game. However, the Spurs have had some tough losses during that stretch, including a 110-84 defeat to Orlando on March 17.

Richard Jefferson(notes) (20 points) and Manu Ginobili(notes) (18) were the only San Antonio players to score in double figures and Tim Duncan(notes) particularly struggled, finishing with a season-low five points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Duncan and the Spurs looked much better in their last game - a 119-102 win over Houston on Wednesday, their third win in four games. George Hill(notes) scored a career-high 30 points and they shot 56.8 percent, bouncing back after a 90-84 loss to league-worst New Jersey on Monday.

Hill, who is averaging 12.7 points this season, has been scoring 16.6 points per game since Parker went down.

“He’s got some big shoes to fill without Tony playing,” Ginobili said of Hill, who added seven assists and five steals. “He’s doing a great job of getting the team to play, scoring, playing ‘D’ against the best opponents. He’s been huge for us.”

Keeping Hill going is especially key as San Antonio tries to overtake Portland for seventh in the Western Conference standings. The Spurs, who can clinch a playoff berth wit a victory coupled with a loss by Memphis to New Orleans on Friday, are fighting with Oklahoma City and Portland to avoid a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It won’t be easy for San Antonio, which also visits the Lakers on Sunday, as the surging Magic have won 14 of 16. Orlando has allowed only two of those opponents to reach 100 points, with only one doing so in regulation.

Orlando is coming off a 97-82 win over Dallas on Thursday, holding the Mavericks to 38.3-percent shooting. Dwight Howard(notes) finished with 17 points, 20 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Magic (53-22) have much less pressure on them when it comes to postseason seeding. They are currently in second place in the East with a 4 1/2-game lead over third-place Atlanta. They have seven games remaining, which includes a three-game homestand beginning Monday against also-rans Memphis, Washington and New York.

“We know how good we are,” said Jameer Nelson(notes), who scored 14 points. “We’re not cocky or overconfident or anything, but we know we can beat anybody when we play our game. We played great defensively, pushed the ball and got good shots when we needed to.”

Howard is giving the Magic good reason to feel confident. Thursday was his second 20-rebound game in the last four contests. He’s averaging 20.2 points and 17.8 rebounds the last five games and has 17 blocks over that span.

Howard, though, did struggle against the Spurs last month, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes.

The Magic have won three straight over San Antonio, holding the Spurs under 100 points in each victory.

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Friday, Apr 2