The San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets, two of the league's hottest teams, battle for Texas pride Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs have won seven of their last eight and the only hiccup during that time was last Thursday's game against the Heat. Gregg Popovich sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home before the game to rest at the end of a six-game road trip.
The move cost the Spurs $250,000, but the Spurs are an older team and one that is battling injuries. Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, Green and Patty Mills missed that one with injury and Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson are still on the mend.
"We're finding ways to do it," said Duncan. "Pop's been moving lineups around as much as possible and, at the same time, trying to keep people fresh. It's been a big juggling act and it's been great."
Against the Bucks, Parker had 22 points and 10 assists, while his fellow starting backcourt mate, Gary Neal, chipped in 22. Duncan netted 17 points and grabbed 10 boards.
NBA Commissioner David Stern might need to be on alert because the Spurs head out on a four-game road trip after Friday night's game against the Rockets.
Houston comes into Friday night's Lone Star battle winners of five of its last six. All five victories came at home as the Rockets have lost their last five on the road.
"I don't know that we think about the losing streak as much as we think about playing the right way," interim head coach Kelvin Sampson said after practice Thursday.
In their last time out, the Rockets rallied late to best the Los Angles Lakers, 107-105. It was a rough night for the Houston starters, who only combined for 48 points. The bench carried the Rockets thanks to 22 from Toney Douglas, a career-high 21 from Greg Smith and 15 out of Carlos Delfino.
"There is a lot to be said about playing the entire 48 minutes and having guys on the bench that you trust that can come through," Sampson said after the victory.
It was especially tough outing for point guard Jeremy Lin. He only managed four points and three assists in under 20 minutes of play.
The Spurs have won six of their last nine against the Rockets and five in a row in the Alamo City.