By NOEY KUPCHAN, Associated Press
While it wasn't easy, the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs pulled out another win their last time out.
Beating the West's worst team last month wasn't nearly as difficult.
The Spurs go for a sixth consecutive victory Wednesday night and fourth in a row over the Utah Jazz, who have struggled mightily in San Antonio over the years.
While their three home games during this win streak have been decided by an average of 21.4 points, the Spurs (30-8) needed overtime to win in Memphis last Tuesday and had their hands full again Monday in a 101-95 victory at New Orleans. Tony Parker led the way with 27 points and Tim Duncan added 18 before fouling out as San Antonio came back from 11 down in the second quarter.
"We know that our team is ready to handle any situation that comes up," said Kawhi Leonard, who hit a key 3-pointer down the stretch.
The Spurs, who became the NBA's first team to 30 wins, shot 9 of 15 in the fourth.
"They are a veteran team. They have been in that situation a million times. They go to the Finals like every year," Pelicans guard Austin Rivers said of the Spurs, who are 24-0 when leading after three quarters.
They didn't have nearly as hard a time in a 100-84 win at Utah (13-26) on Dec. 14. Duncan finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, which never trailed after the first quarter and led by as many as 21.
"They know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. They showed us," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
The Spurs, who also won 91-82 at Utah on Nov. 15, have taken three straight and 10 of 12 from the Jazz. San Antonio is 25-2 in the series at home dating to May 1999, including five straight wins while averaging 108.6 points.
Despite Utah's record, Corbin's team has played better of late. The Jazz, 9-7 over the last five weeks, have won four of six after beating Denver 118-103 on Monday.
Alec Burks recorded a career-high 34 points while filling in for the injured Gordon Hayward (hip), and Utah shot 55.7 percent - its second-highest mark of the season.
"His ability to finish in traffic and his size and the way he can handle the ball is unique," teammate Richard Jefferson said of Burks.
The Jazz have won five of their last six when Burks plays at least 30 minutes. He is averaging 16.7 points in those games.
"With more opportunity, I am a wiser player now," said Burks, who was held to nine points on 4-of-16 shooting against the Spurs last month. "I know now what everybody's going to do now, how they are going to play defense against me."
Derrick Favors added 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 15 boards Monday as Utah scored a season-high 64 in the paint. The Jazz have won nine of 11 when Favors shoots at least 56.0 percent.
While Hayward will travel with the Jazz on their three-game road trip, his status for Wednesday remains unclear. Hayward, leading the team with 17.1 points per game, was averaging 27.0 and shooting 60.4 percent over a three-game stretch before getting hurt.
The Spurs, meanwhile, are without Danny Green, expected to miss a month after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left hand Sunday.
Parker is averaging 22.3 points in his last seven games against the Jazz. San Antonio is 14-2 when he scores at least 18.
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