Short-handed Spurs down Mavs, move closer to clinching NBA record
Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs, pictured during an NBA game at Madison Square Garden in New York, on November 10, 2013 - by Maddie Meyer
Kawhi Leonard on Thursday finished with 16 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for San Antonio, who were without Tony Parker for the second straight game as the star point guard continued to recover from a back sprain.
With the victory, San Antonio stayed on course to secure the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Spurs notched their 61st victory of the season, and are all but certain to finish atop the Western Conference with three games remaining.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, who have four games remaining, have a record of 57-21.
The Spurs need to win only one of their last three games or have the Thunder lose one for San Antonio to claim the Western Conference's top seed.
The Spurs got a scare when superstar Tim Duncan left the game in the first quarter to have his right knee examined, but Duncan returned to the contest and finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Danny Green drained five three-pointers for 15 points, and Tiago Splitter chipped in 12 points.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, fell into a virtual tie with Phoenix for seventh place in the Western Conference with the defeat.
Dallas have played two more games than the Suns, and the two teams will meet on Saturday in Dallas.
Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 with six rebounds in his first game since he became the 10th-highest scorer in NBA history on Tuesday.