The San Antonio Spurs dismantled the Los Angeles Clippers last month, handing them their worst loss of the season. But beset by injuries, San Antonio hasn't been close to full strength since.
The Spurs are hoping they'll be much healthier Tuesday night when they visit the Clippers.
San Antonio (38-15), which comes out of the All-Star break four games behind Oklahoma City for first place in the West, knocked off Los Angeles for a 116-92 home victory Jan. 4. It was the first of six straight victories for the Spurs, but they've gone 7-7 since then.
The win over the Clippers marked the last game in which the likes of Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili were all available.
Splitter, the team's second-leading rebounder, has played in only four of the club's last 19 games while dealing with a sore calf and a sprained right shoulder. Ginobili, who is third on the Spurs in scoring, has missed eight straight contests due to a tight left hamstring, while defensive stalwart Leonard has sat out 11 in a row after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his right hand Jan. 22. Parker has missed three games since the win over the Clippers, most recently dealing with tightness in his lower back.
There's a chance all four could play Tuesday.
"Hopefully we can get our whole team and try to play our best basketball," said Parker, who scored four points in 11 minutes during Sunday's All-Star Game. "I can't wait to have everybody. It's hard to get a rhythm. But every team goes through that."
The Clippers (37-18) are two games back of the Spurs after entering the break on a three-game winning streak, including a 122-117 home victory over Portland on Wednesday. They're 14-5 since losing to San Antonio last month.
Blake Griffin scored 36 versus the Trail Blazers - the fourth time in five games he scored at least that many points - and followed that with a spectacular performance in the All-Star Game, converting a record 19 of 23 field-goal attempts for 38 points.
Chris Paul had 20 points and 12 assists against Portland in his second game back since returning from a separated right shoulder. The injury sidelined him for last month's loss to San Antonio.
"It's definitely not (100 percent)," said Paul, who had 11 points and 13 assists as a reserve in the All-Star Game. "But as long as I'm not hindering my team and my teammates, I feel I can be effective out there."
The Spurs closed their pre-break schedule with a 104-92 win at Boston. Without Parker, Tim Duncan took over late, scoring 23 of his 25 points in the second half.
"I started out the second half the exact same way and finally got some to fall," said Duncan, who was 1 for 4 from the field in the first half and 5 of 6 in the fourth quarter. "They kept coming to me and I just put it in the hole. There wasn't anything I changed, anything I saw."
Marco Belinelli had 16 points against the Celtics before winning Saturday's Three-Point Shootout. He's 7 for 14 from beyond the arc over his last three games.
Griffin and Paul combined for 50 points in a 115-92 Clippers home win over San Antonio on Dec. 16. Duncan and Parker totaled only 25 points.
The Associated Press News Service
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