Dec 27, 6:01 AM (ET)
GAME: Indiana Pacers (15-10) at San Antonio Spurs (21-7).
TIME: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.
An empty Christmas trip to Detroit turned worse for Tony Parker and the Spurs when they returned to San Antonio.
The star point guard hopes to put an ugly off-the-court incident behind him when the defending NBA champions host the Indiana Pacers.
The Spurs, tied with Dallas for the best record in the Western Conference, visited the Pistons on Sunday for a rematch of last season's NBA Finals. Owners of the league's best record, Detroit left little doubt that it was fast emerging as the team to beat for this year's crown, pulling away late for a relatively easy 85-70 win over San Antonio.
The Spurs, suddenly struggling in the absence of injured forward Manu Ginobili (foot), have lost three of their last five games. San Antonio knocked off Detroit in seven tough games in last season's NBA Finals, denying the Pistons their second straight title.
"We were playing a lot closer at the end of the season. They're a little bit ahead of us," admitted Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Parker scored 19 points and Tim Duncan added 18 and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who have been without Ginobili the last eight games.
Parker's return to San Antonio didn't go very well either. He was cited for impeding traffic and failing to produce a valid Texas driver's license during a traffic stop in which girlfriend and "Desperate Housewives" actress Eva Longoria was his passenger, police said.
An officer on a bicycle saw the stopped car holding up traffic early Saturday and rapped the hood with his hand, according to a police report. Parker, behind the wheel, questioned why the officer touched the car, and the couple "began screaming in a verbally abusive and demeaning manner," police said. Longoria called the police report "highly inaccurate."
The Pacers are coming off Monday's 102-80 loss at Dallas, falling to 0-2 on a three-game road trip and 5-3 since putting disgruntled forward Ron Artest on the inactive list.
Jermaine O'Neal led Indiana with 15 points. Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley scored 12 and Austin Croshere 11. The game was so lopsided that no starter played more than O'Neal's 35 minutes, with the 11th and 12th men each playing nearly seven minutes.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 26): Pacers - 3rd place (tied), 7 GB, Central Division. Spurs - 1st place, Southwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Pacers - O'Neal, 22.2 ppg and 10.2 rpg; Tinsley, 5.4 apg. Spurs - Duncan, 20.7 ppg and 11.8 rpg; Parker, 6.3 apg.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pacers - 6-7 on the road; Spurs - 12-1 at home.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Pacers - F Jackson, F O'Neal, C Jeff Foster, G Tinsley, G Sarunas Jasikevicius. Spurs - F Bruce Bowen, F Duncan, C Rasho Nesterovic, G Michael Finley, G Parker.
With Manu Ginobili still out I think we have a good chance to win this game, because his absence offsets us being without Ron.
Thinking about starting lineups I would like to see Rick send Jax to the bench. He could come off as 1st option off the bench so he would get lots of touches.
Make Tinsley the 2nd option and move him to shooting guard. He can drive and pass.
Start Saras at point where he obviously fits best.
Then start a front line that includes Dan at SF.
Foster guards Tim as well as anyone, but Foster can't hang on to the ball. He dropped 3 passes in the paint last night. I would start Cro and JO at the two big spots.