Spurs to Play Without Parker, Rockets Look for Win over the Lakers
With its win streak snapped and the regular season’s end approaching, the San Antonio Spurs (60-17) will hit the road without its top scorer, Tony Parker, on Tuesday. The veteran player will miss the team’s two-game road trip which begins with its matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves (38-38).
This comes as Parker has been dealing with back spasms. He underwent an MRI on Monday and has been listed as day-to-day upon the team’s return.
So, the Spurs will move on without him and his 16.8 point and 5.8 assist averages. On Sunday they persevered after his first quarter exit in a 112-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Kawhi Leonard stepped up with 26 points, tying a career high, while Manu Ginobili also added 26 points.
San Antonio will enter Tuesday’s game with a 4 1/2 game advantage over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference race. The Thunder will play the Sacremento Kings on Tuesday and with a loss by them and a Spurs win, San Antonio will clinch the league’s top record.
As for Minnesota, they’ll look for its star player, Kevin Love, to return to action after his own back spasms. The player missed Saturday’s 100-92 defeat against the Orlando Magic, which snapped its two-game win streak.
But with Love’s play on Tuesday, he’ll be without numerous teammates including Chase Budinger (ankle), Shabazz Muhammad (knee), Kevin Martin (heel) and Nikola Pekovic (ankle).
Reserve forward Dante Cunningham will likely also be absent as he was again arrested (a second time over three days) on Monday after sending threatening “terroristic” messages to the woman he lives with, according to numerous media reports.
Coming off the bench this season, Cunningham, a free agent upon ending this season, has a 6 points and 4 rebounds per game average in his approximately 20 minutes a game of playing this year.
In their two earlier matchups for the season, San Antonio won both of them. This came on strong play by Parker, but for this third game, Vegas doesn’t have winner yet. Looking ahead, it gives the Spurs 8/5 odds to win the Western Conference and 3/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.
On Sunday, the Lakers matched it with their 120-97 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, a feat last accomplished in its 1960-1961 season.
Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Lakers are also riding a four-game losing streak as well as losing their last 10 of 13 games. They’ve been hit with the injury bug all season and on Sunday, Kent Bazemore joined this group after spraining his foot; he has an uncertain status.
He will be missed with his 13.1 point average over 23 games since joining the Lakers on Feb. 20.
While injuries have certainly played a major part in the Lakers’ woes, poor defensive play has also been a huge detriment. They sit with the second-most points allowed per game in the league at 109.0 while averaging 114.5 points allowed during its recent stumble.
Good luck going up against Houston, who is the NBA’s second-highest scoring team with its 107.1 points per game.
The team also has James Harden, who has played well against the Lakers this season with his 34.0 point average and 10 of 23 3-pointers. As Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley battle injuries, over his last eight games, Harden stepped up, scoring on average 31.1 points and 7.4 assists.
In Sunday’s 130-125 win over the Denver Nuggets, Harden scored 32 points.
The Rockets are headed to the playoffs and sit two games ahead of the No. 5 Portland Trailblazers. On Tuesday, it’s too early to tell who will win this matchup but the Rockets sit at 18/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.