Everything is on track for the San Antonio Spurs. They're staying healthy and coasting toward the home-court advantage they prize in the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, are still banged-up and sliding.
Tony Parker scored 18 points, DeJuan Blair had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and the Spurs won their fifth in a row while handing the reeling Mavericks their fourth straight loss, 101-89, on Friday night in San Antonio.
Dirk Nowitzki missed his ninth straight game because of an ailing right knee, and the once-mighty Mavs lost for the seventh time since the All-Star forward went out. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said after the game Nowitzki could be back as early as today against Memphis.
“They didn’t have Dirk and we took advantage of it, but it doesn’t mean nothing because they’re not the same team without him,” Parker said.
The Spurs (34-6) beat Dallas for a second time with Nowitzki sidelined. The injury has prevented a full-strength showdown between the NBA-best Spurs and Mavs, who have slipped seven games behind their Texas rivals in the Southwest Division.
Shawn Marion had 14 points as Dallas matched its worst loss of the season.
The Boston Celtics assigned rookie guard Avery Bradley to the NBA Development League. The Celtics sent the first-round draft choice and former Bellarmine Prep star to the Maine Red Claws for his first stint in the NBADL. The 6-foot-2 Bradley averaged 1.1 points in 4.7 minutes in 14 games this season with the Celtics. His season high was four points against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. The NBA has granted a disabled player salary exception to the Houston Rockets in the wake of Yao Ming’s latest season-ending injury. Yao underwent surgery on Jan. 6 to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle.