Although Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili have missed the majority of San Antonio's last 11 games, the Spurs have managed to win each one thanks to the strong play of Tony Parker and the supporting cast.
It certainly seems like the Spurs should be able to keep their win streak intact Friday night, when they visit the struggling Detroit Pistons.
The Spurs own the NBA's best record at 39-11 and are currently riding the 14th double-digit winning streak of coach Gregg Popovich's tenure. It's come despite Duncan (sprained left knee) missing six of the last eight games and Ginobili (hamstring) sidelined for six of 10. Both have played in the same game just once during the streak - the first win - and are listed as day-to-day for Friday.
Parker has simply continued to play some of the best basketball of his career, and has been particularly effective over the winning streak, averaging 23.2 points on 58.3 percent shooting with 9.3 assists. He scored 31 and added eight assists in a 104-94 win at Minnesota on Wednesday, the opener of a season-high nine-game road trip.
"We've gotten used to playing without them," said Parker, whose averages of 20.3 points, 7.6 assists and 53.2 field goal percentage are all the second-highest marks of his career. "Obviously I'd rather have them because it would be a lot easier to have Timmy and Manu, but it definitely helps the other guys."
Danny Green, who knocked down eight 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 28 points against the Timberwolves, is hitting 44.4 percent of his shots from long distance during the winning streak. Kawhi Leonard added 19 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday for his second straight double-double.
"The system doesn't change when guys are out," Popovich said. "If Tony was out, somebody else would play. We just run the same stuff, we don't change anything. I think they're pretty used to the execution no matter who's on the court."
Detroit (18-32) has lost seven of nine, with three of those defeats coming by three points or fewer. The latest was a 93-90 home loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Greg Monroe cut the Nets' lead to one with 10.4 seconds left, but Joe Johnson hit free throws after the Pistons' ensuing foul. Will Bynum's potential game-tying 3-pointer in the final moments came up short, resulting in the Pistons' sixth loss in nine games at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Detroit suffered a 98-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers three days earlier in a game they could have won on the final possession.
"There were many opportunities and controlled situations and we didn't do a very good job," coach Lawrence Frank said. "All those things add up. We had opportunities at the rim and didn't convert."
The Pistons were also plagued by yet another poor 3-point shooting performance, going 3 of 17. They're shooting just 28.9 percent from beyond the arc over the last nine games.
These teams haven't met since San Antonio's 99-95 win at Detroit last February, the Spurs' fifth victory in the last six matchups.
The Associated Press News Service
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