NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 8th (All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (28-32) at San Antonio Spurs (48-14), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Maybe Tony Parker wasn't such a great MVP candidate after all.
Since the All-Star guard, who truly deserved some attention in the MVP race, went down with an ankle sprain, the San Antonio Spurs have won two in a row and will try to make it three Friday night when they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to the Alamo City.
Parker injured his ankle in a rout of the Sacramento Kings one week ago. He will be sidelined at least a month, but the Spurs decimated two teams in his absence.
On Sunday, the Spurs waxed the Detroit Pistons, 114-75, then on Wednesday, they took care of the Chicago Bulls, 101-83.
"I think the character of the guys, the focus, the professional is really the reason we've been able to sustain everything," coach Gregg Popovich said after practice on Thursday.
Corey Joseph has started with Parker out and has done an admirable job. He's averaging 6.0 ppg and 3.0 apg, but he only has committed one turnover in the two games.
"That is impressive," Popovich said.
The Spurs have played four straight at home and have one more to go after the Portland game. They go to Minnesota on Monday, then have four straight at home again.
The Blazers will play the middle game of their three-game road trip through the South. They lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 91-85 on Wednesday and that halted a two-game winning streak.
Portland took a 12-point lead into halftime against Memphis, but was outscored 53-35 in the second half.
"Part of the thing defensively was that, we got stops in the first half where they weren't making shots whatever and so we were playing in transition and flow and not playing against their half-court defense," said head coach Terry Stotts. "Second half they shot the ball better so we are playing against their half-court defense more. They played a small lineup, but they took pick and rolls out of the game. Gasol did a good job on LaMarcus. So, they just tightened things up but I think their offense really helped affect their defense."
The Grizzlies are an elite defensive team in this league and held Portland to 40 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent shooting from long range.
The Blazers have lost seven in a row on the road.
San Antonio and Portland have split the season series as both games were in the Rose City. The Blazers have dropped two straight in San Antonio and three of their last four.
03/08 10:33:07 ET