That doesn’t mean they will have a healthy Duncan when they play the Sacramento Kings in a matchup of two top Western Conference teams.
Duncan missed San Antonio’s 99-74 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday after having tests on his injured right knee. Dye injected for the tests prevented Duncan from returning for that game.
The two-time reigning MVP is listed as questionable for this meeting with the Western Conference-leading Kings.
“Our first priority is him, the second is how it affects the team,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Our record or standing means nothing. (What matters) is how he feels.”
“Other players start to step up,” said Manu Ginobili, who had 16 points. “They know they have to do everything better.”
Duncan saw 15 minutes of action Wednesday after missing the previous six games, scoring nine points in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. But the team said Friday he had to strengthen his leg more before returning to the lineup.
San Antonio has won five of six, but is two games back of Minnesota for the Midwest Division lead and 4 1/2 games behind Sacramento for the best record in the West. The Spurs are 5-2 without Duncan.
The Kings had won six of seven before an 83-81 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Sacramento trailed by as many as 14 points, but came back in the final quarter and tied it at 75 on Anthony Peeler’s 3-pointer with 5:56 left. Mike Bibby’s layup with 2:02 left tied it again at 81 before Portland’s Zach Randolph hit a jumper and Theo Ratliff blocked an attempt by Bibby.
Doug Christie missed a 3-point attempt as time ran out.
“We just didn’t have it in the second and third quarters,” Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. “We didn’t do enough to stay within shouting distance.”
STANDINGS (through March 12): Spurs - 2nd place, 2 GB, Midwest Division. Kings - 1st place, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 22.9 ppg and 12.8 rpg; Parker, 5.4 apg. Kings - Stojakovic, 25.1 ppg; Brad Miller, 10.7 rpg; Divac, 6 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 6; Spurs, 102-94. At Sacramento, Duncan had 28 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks Friday night, leading San Antonio to its third straight victory at Arco Arena. San Antonio, the league’s best defensive team, held the NBA’s highest scoring team to 37 percent shooting.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 20-14 on the road; Kings - 29-5 at home.