Tony Parker is enjoying a fine season for the San Antonio Spurs and the All-Star guard looks to keep his team rolling Saturday versus the Phoenix Suns in the opener of a three-game homestand at the AT&T Center.
Parker has scored 20 or more points in five straight games and is averaging 21.2 ppg this month. Parker finished with 23 points and 10 assists in Friday's 113-107 win at Dallas and has recorded double-doubles in two straight and three of his last four games.
The veteran Parker also needed stitches to close a gash above his left eye. Gary Neal had 18 points and came off the bench earlier than expected when Parker took an elbow to the face early on. Neal's four-point play in the first quarter highlighted his night.
"If somebody is down then somebody else is going to step up," said Spurs assistant coach Mike Budenholzer. "They all have a lot of confidence, and they know we have confidence in them, and Gary (Neal) came in and stepped up."
San Antonio, which was without future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan (knee) and head coach Gregg Popovich (illness) for the second straight game, looks to extend its home winning streak to 16 games Saturday and is 19-2 at home. Duncan has missed two straight and three of four games, and is questionable. The All-Star is averaging 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds this season.
Popovich may return to the bench as well versus the Suns. Also scheduled to visit the Spurs are the Bobcats and Wizards. San Antonio hasn't lost at home since Nov. 19 versus the Los Angeles Clippers and is 14-1 against the West in front of the friendly faithful.
The Suns are on a two-game winning streak ever since Lindsey Hunter took over head-coaching duties from Alvin Gentry. The team won at Sacramento on Wednesday night, then took out the Pacific-leading Los Angeles Clippers at home on Thursday.
"The last two games we have played as a team," said guard Goran Dragic. "We are hustling on defense; offense everybody is engaged, everybody is participating. It's much easier if you have five guys on the floor and everybody is dangerous for baskets so the defense cannot relax. We just have to be solid on defense."
The defense has been strong under Hunter. The Suns have allowed 92 ppg in just the small sample size, but they held a great Clippers team to 88 points Thursday, although L.A. was without MVP candidate Chris Paul, who sat with a knee injury.
Dragic led the way with 24 points and eight assists. Marcin Gortat, Luis Scola and Markieff Morris all scored in double figures for Phoenix.
The Suns stay in the Lone Star State on Sunday to face the Dallas Mavericks. They have only four road victories this season, but play two at home before a four-game sojourn. Phoenix is a putrid 4-17 away from the desert.
The Spurs have won four straight and seven of their last eight against the Suns and are undefeated in the past six matchups in the Alamo City.