Shorthanded Spurs clash with rival Mavs

The San Antonio Spurs will once again be without future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich on Friday night when they visit the Dallas Mavericks.

Both didn't travel with the team to New Orleans Wednesday night when they beat the Hornets, 106-102.

The Spurs announced on Thursday night that neither made the trip to Dallas. Duncan is bothered by a sore left knee and Popovich remains ill. Assistant Mike Budenholzer will once again coach the team as he did on Wednesday night.

"Pop's a warrior," veteran Stephen Jackson said. "Pop might be the only person who's tougher than me. I've never known him not to be here."

The team did receive some good news on Thursday when Duncan and Tony Parker were both named as All-Star reserves. This season marked Duncan's 14th selection and Parker's fifth.

Tiago Splitter led the way for the Spurs against the Hornets with 25 points. Parker cemented his All-Star status with 24 points and 13 assists. Jackson and Danny Green also scored in double figures.

The Spurs have the NBA's longest current winning streak at six games. San Antonio has taken its last two on the road.

The Mavericks have been much better of late with wins in five of their last six. Their scoring is up, averaging 110.7 ppg during that span and perhaps, most importantly, the Mavs are getting some rest.

Dallas hasn't played since a 111-105 victory Sunday in Orlando against the Magic. In contrast, the Spurs have played two games since Dallas was last on the court.

"Four days off in the middle of the season usually doesn't happen much, so you gotta make the best of it," said Dirk Nowitzki. "We've gotta mix some rest with some work, looks like we're mixing more work than rest."

During this run of sound play, the Mavericks have also taken care of the basketball. They committed a season-low eight turnovers against the Magic and have recorded 10-or-fewer turnovers in four of their last five games.

Seven Mavericks scored in double digits against Orlando, led by 20 from Shawn Marion. Nowitzki, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Vince Carter and Elton Brand also registered double figures.

The Spurs have won both matchups this season and did so convincingly. The Spurs hammered the Mavs, 129-91, in San Antonio on Dec. 23, then won by 25 in Dallas one week later.

"Every game is important to us, so whether we've beaten a team two or three times, or we've lost to them two or three times, we need to approach this game the same way and that's to win and get the job done by any means," said Carter.

San Antonio is 3-2 in its last five in Dallas.