The San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets are teams headed in opposite directions at the moment. After ripping off a league-leading 11-game winning streak, the Spurs rested Tony Parker and Tim Duncan against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday and felt okay losing by 40. Meanwhile, the banged up nuggets have lost seven of their last 10 games and are desperate to make it three in a row at home heading into the All-Star break.
San Antonio is 7-1 on their annual rodeo road trip, and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have been big reasons why they've been so successful recently. Parker is the team's leading scorer and assist man this season, averaging 19.5 points per game in 7.9 assists. In his last 10 games, Parker is ramped up his scoring to 25.7 points per game and is distributing better at 8.7 dimes. Duncan has remained a steady force in the middle holds a respectable PER of 21.31. Both are expected back in the starting five on Thursday.
The Nuggets lineup is more up in the air at the moment. Ty Lawson sat out Wednesday's matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers to rest his sprained ankle, and is listed as day-to-day. Nene (calf) is likely out until the All-Star break, according to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post. The hottest player for Denver is Arron Afflalo. He scored 27 points on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 20 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday and 20 more against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. In the loss to the Clippers, SB Nation's Nuggets blog, Denver Stiffs, is getting impatient with George Karl's lineup management:
Coach Karl keeps making the same mistakes over and over and over again. What's funny is, if I wasn't so happy about the Nuggets putting forth a gutty and TREMENDOUS effort with so many injured players out, I probably could have seen the ending coming. That is the most disappointing aspect of this game. The players DESERVED to win this. After putting in a lineup that nine times out of ten will get outrebounded because of sheer size difference alone, Karl had the audacity in his post game press conference to say that "if we had rebounded better we could have run". That should insult the intelligence of every Nuggets fan out there.
Game time/date: 7:00 PM MT, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012
Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO