Spurs-Thunder Preview


Tony Parker lit up the Oklahoma City Thunder last month with the second-most points of his career. The way he's been playing in the last week, a similar performance isn't out of the question.

Parker and the Spurs will try to continue their outstanding road play Friday night when they face the Thunder in a matchup of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Parker matched the second-most points of his career with 42 to lead the Spurs to a 107-96 victory over the Thunder on Feb. 4.

Held to four points in 25 minutes in the first meeting, Parker has helped San Antonio (28-13) win three of four after it dropped three of the previous five. He missed the one loss during that four-game stretch with a sore thigh and is averaging 31.3 points on 63.8 percent shooting in the three victories.

Parker scored 16 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and handed out 12 assists in the Spurs' 122-111 win over Orlando on Wednesday. He went 6 of 7 from the field in the final 12 minutes and scored seven straight points to give San Antonio a 108-100 lead with four minutes left.

"He was great and he took control of the game," said Tim Duncan, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. "He's been the guy for us all year long and he's controlling the game. He's making the right passes and making the shots when he has too. He's been unbelievable."

Looking to improve their defense, the Spurs upgraded at the trading deadline Thursday, re-acquiring Stephen Jackson from Golden State for Richard Jefferson and a conditional first-round draft pick this year.

Jackson is more of a scoring threat than Jefferson, but his biggest asset may be his defense.

The Warriors acquired Jackson this week from Milwaukee. In 26 games with the Bucks, he's averaged 10.5 points. Jackson, who clashed with Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles, hasn't played since Feb. 19 after falling out of the rotation.

Jackson played two seasons with the Spurs and helped them win the NBA title in 2002-03 before signing with Atlanta in 2003. It's not certain if he'll be able to play in either game on back-to-back nights against Oklahoma City or Dallas.

While the Spurs played unevenly during a seven-game homestand, they have been outstanding on the road recently, winning nine of 10.

The Thunder (33-10) are 18-3 at home, but two of the losses came in their last three games there.

Oklahoma City bounced back from a one-point loss to Houston on Tuesday with a 103-90 victory at Denver on Thursday. Kevin Durant scored nine of his 24 points in the third quarter, when the Thunder turned a one-point deficit into a 13-point lead heading into the fourth.

"We moved the ball and moved it quickly and got the good hockey assist and we made the shots," Durant said. "And once we make shots and once we defend with all your heart, it is a fun game."

San Antonio has done an excellent job keeping Durant in check lately. The Oklahoma City star has averaged 22.4 points in the last five meetings since scoring 45 in a 99-96 loss on March 22, 2010.

These teams have split two meetings this season, with each winning at home. The Spurs had won six straight in the series before the Thunder's 108-96 home victory on Jan. 8.