The San Antonio Spurs could clinch their spot in the postseason by the time Sunday ends. They could also get a good look at their potential first-round opponent.
The Spurs will try to lock up that berth against the host Los Angeles Lakers, who could be in line to wrap up the Western Conference’s best record.
San Antonio needs a win over the Lakers or a Memphis loss to Orlando later in the evening to reach the playoffs for the 13th straight year. The Spurs (46-29) took a step toward that berth as Manu Ginobili(notes) scored a season-high 43 points in a 112-100 victory over the visiting Magic on Friday night.
“We couldn’t beat anybody the first 40, 50 games of the good (teams),” Ginobili said. “I’m very glad we started doing it. It’s better late than not doing it at all.”
San Antonio has won 14 of 19 despite not having starting point guard Tony Parker(notes) in the lineup for the past 15 games due to a broken ring finger. Ginobili has led San Antonio to 10 wins in Parker’s absence, including three over division-leading clubs.
In his last 14 starts, Ginobili has averaged 25.1 points - nearly nine above his season mark - on 51.7 percent shooting.
He scored a team-leading 24 points against the Lakers on March 24, but George Hill(notes) was the only other player in double figures with 21 in a 92-83 home loss, the Spurs’ fourth in the past five meetings with Los Angeles.
San Antonio has also dropped four in a row at Staples Center, including a 101-89 defeat Feb. 8. Ginobili scored a team-best 21 points in that win while Pau Gasol(notes) matched his output for the Lakers, who were without Kobe Bryant(notes) due to a sore left ankle.
That losing streak might not end Sunday as the Lakers are riding a seven-game home win streak that includes Friday night’s 106-92 victory over Utah.
In its first game at Staples Center since March 21, Los Angeles (55-21) got a season-high 26 points from Lamar Odom(notes), 25 from Bryant - who signed a three-year contract extension earlier in the day - despite a 5-of-23 shooting performance and a near triple-double from Gasol.
The Lakers are closing in on a third straight Pacific Division title as well as the top seed in the West. They need wins in five of their final six games to have back-to-back 60-win seasons for the first time since they did it four straight seasons from 1984-85 to 1987-88.
“The focus is to win and try to close up that spot so we don’t have to put pressure on ourselves at the end of the season,” Odom said.