By JOHN KOSIK, Associated Press
Giving their aging trio of stars some occasional rest as the regular season winds down could be a great help to the San Antonio Spurs come playoff time.
The well-balanced Spurs may have another chance to do that Sunday, looking to roll over one of the Western Conference's worst teams for the second straight game and extend their win streak to 10 as they host the Utah Jazz.
San Antonio (49-16) hasn't lost since a 106-85 defeat at Phoenix on Feb. 21, surging to the NBA's best record. The Spurs have played only twice on the road during the stretch and haven't dropped a home game since Jan. 29 against Chicago.
They won their eighth in a row in San Antonio with a 119-85 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night - their largest margin of victory in the series - and were able to give their regulars extra time on the bench after taking control early on.
Tim Duncan, who turns 38 next month, Tony Parker (31) and Manu Ginobili (36) all played 15 minutes or less for the Spurs, who had six players score in double figures but only one starter. Danny Green had 15 of the starting five's 43 points.
"It's great," said Parker, limited to an average of 26.0 minutes in seven games since missing six due to injuries. "We want to keep our legs fresh - big picture, the playoffs. At this time of the season, if we can have games like that, it's great."
After taking the lead for good early in the first quarter, San Antonio put its depth on full display. Matt Bonner led the reserves with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Marco Belinelli and Aron Baynes added 12 points apiece, Cory Joseph scored 11 and Jeff Ayres 10.
The Spurs are getting at least 8.1 points per contest from nine different players, a balance that could pay big dividends with 17 games left on the schedule.
"Great hands in the lanes, good defense, good rotations," Duncan said after finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks against the Lakers. "We've beat some pretty good teams here in the last couple of games and we came in here, we had to respect them. We did just that from the go and got a lead and stuck with it."
The loss dropped the Lakers into a tie with the Jazz (22-44) for the worst record in the West. San Antonio will get another shot at the Lakers at Staples Center on Wednesday, but up first is Utah, which has dropped eight of nine.
The Jazz, kicking off a tough three-game trip that features stops in Houston and Memphis, have dropped all three meetings with the Spurs. Utah hasn't been swept in the season series since 2010-11.
Utah will try to avoid allowing an opponent to extend a winning streak into double digits for the second straight game after the Los Angeles Clippers pushed their run to 10 with a 96-87 victory in Salt Lake City on Friday night.
Trey Burke and Derrick Favors each scored 18 points for the Jazz, who made only 7 of 19 shots in the fourth quarter after leading by as much as 13 in the first half.
"Our biggest area of growth will be maintaining that type of intensity throughout the game and playing that way for 48 minutes," said Burke, averaging 20.3 points in the last three games.
Including these teams' 2012 playoff series, Utah has lost 15 of 17 meetings overall and eight straight in San Antonio since winning there Jan. 20, 2010.
FIRST TO 50 WINS THIS SEASON GO SPURS GOOOOOOO!!!!!!
FINAL SCORE: JAZZ 104 - SPURS 122
THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS ARE THE FIRST NBA TEAM TO WIN 50 GAMES THIS SEASON.
Jazz are gonna be very dangerous in the next two years or so. They have alot of fine pieces. A championship coach and a top veteran PG (a landing spot for Mr Parker after the Spur Big 3 era???), and they could be in the running for a title.
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