NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 6th
(All times Eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (42-35) at San Antonio Spurs (56-20), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The San Antonio Spurs had a few days to think about their
last loss and look to re-energize their chances for the West's top seed
Saturday night versus the Atlanta Hawks.
The Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are battling it out for the conference's
top spot as the two are even in the standings. San Antonio was off Friday, but
the Thunder defeated the Indiana Pacers.
San Antonio dropped a 100-88 decision to the Thunder Thursday night and
couldn't stop Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The OKC duo combined for 52
points and Westbrook led the way with a game-high 27 points. Tim Duncan and
Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points apiece for the Spurs, who have lost three of
their last four games.
Oklahoma City used a 20-3 run in the first half to put the Spurs behind the
eight ball and outscored the visitors by six (23-17) in the fourth quarter.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker had just two points in just over 25 minutes of
play, but was bothered by a shin injury. Parker has already missed time with
an ankle ailment and hopes to get healthy for the stretch run.
"I just have to get healthy," said Parker. "I'm not going to talk about all my
stuff, I've got a lot of stuff going on but I just have to get healthy. It's
not an excuse and OKC, I give them a lot of credit they played great."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich feels Parker is dealing with a case of tendinitis,
but wasn't too sure. Parker will miss Saturday's game.
"My feeling is tendinitis, something in his shins or whatever, from the way it
looked on the court, but I don't know," said Popovich. "We thought he had just
kind of recovered from his ankle, so this was something new tonight with his
leg. I just don't know what it is right now."
Spurs forward Stephen Jackson (ankle) is doubtful versus the Hawks and center
DeJuan Blair (virus) is probable.
The Spurs are 33-5 at home this season and need to keep pace with the Thunder
for the West's top record. Oklahoma City pulled even in the loss column with
Thursday's win and controls the tiebreaker if both teams win out due to a
better record against the West.
Meanwhile, the Hawks will hit the road for two games against San Antonio and
Philadelphia and completed a four-game homestand (2-2) with Friday's 101-90
setback to the 76ers.
Atlanta had won two in a row before its recent two-game slide and couldn't get
much going against the Sixers. Josh Smith led five Atlanta players in double
figures with 19 points and Al Horford added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the
Hawks, who are sixth in the East with plenty of wiggle room.
The Hawks are two games behind Brooklyn, one game in back of Chicago and 2 1/2
games in front of Boston.
Coach Larry Drew was not pleased following Friday's loss.
"Here we are 77 games into our season and we don't know who we are. All the
way back to training camp, and with all the changes that we made, one of the
things we made a point to our guys to understand was who we had to be," Drew
said. "We had a team that would be gritty. We had to be a team with a blue
collar mentality every time we stepped on the floor. Somewhere along the line
we have forgotten who we have to be."
Atlanta is 18-20 as the guest this season and suffered a 98-93 home loss to
the Spurs on Jan. 19. Parker racked up 23 points and 12 assists to lead San
Antonio, which has won four straight, 11 of 12 and 14 of the last 16 meetings
in this series.
The Hawks have lost 14 straight and 17 of the last 18 in the Alamo City.
04/06 12:23:47 ET