Spurs host Pacers with playoff push in mind

NBA

Stringing together wins over the next six weeks will determine whether the San Antonio Spurs will continue their record postseason run. If the Spurs make the playoffs, it’s likely they will look back at Saturday’s win over Orlando as a big piece of the push.

Now San Antonio has to build on that momentum, beginning on Monday when it hosts Indiana in the Alamo City.

Friday’s victory snapped a two-game slide for the Spurs (25-33), who remain three games behind Memphis for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Seven players scored in double figures for San Antonio, led by Trey Lyles’ 20 points.

It took all that and more to garner the 114-113 win for the Spurs, who had an early 16-point lead before giving it all back. Bryn Forbes’ late-3-pointer was the game’s deciding shot.

“It was a great team win,” said Spurs forward Rudy Gay, who scored 19 points off the bench and went 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. “We all scrambled. We all filled roles and did as much as we could for each other. That was a key about this game. It taught us a lot about ourselves.”

The Spurs were without forward LaMarcus Aldridge for the second consecutive game because of a right shoulder strain. They also lost center Jakob Poeltl to a first-quarter right knee contusion that limited him to the game’s first four minutes.

“They don’t tell you how you won, they just show how many you got,” San Antonio guard Derrick White said. “So, whether you win by one, win by 50, it doesn’t matter as long as you win.”

The Pacers head to San Antonio after a 113-104 win in Cleveland on Saturday. Indiana (36-24) has won five of its past six contests following a season-high six-game losing streak.

T.J. Warren scored 30 points to lead the Pacers while Malcolm Brogdon collected 22 points and 8 assists in a game that was knotted 16 times and featured 12 lead changes.

“Cleveland had 38 points at half in the paint – everything was in the paint,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “Second half we did a better job of defending the paint. We switched some matchups and it worked out for us.”

Victor Oladipo scored a season-high 19 points in his 10th game since returning from a year-long absence from a ruptured tendon in his right knee, and Domantas Sabonis recorded his 46th double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana in the win.

”I felt like we didn’t panic at the end,” Sabonis said. ”We really wanted to come out and get it done the way we know we’re capable of.”

The Pacers currently sit in sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, nine games clear of seventh-place Orlando and a game back of fifth-place Philadelphia.

Monday’s game is the second of a five-game road trip that also takes the Pacers to Milwaukee, Chicago and Dallas. Indiana returns home to face Boston on March 10.

This is the first of two games this year between the two teams, with the follow-up in Indianapolis on April 13. San Antonio owns a 54-39 all-time edge against the Pacers and have won 30 of the 47 games played in the Alamo City.

–Field Level Media

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