The San Antonio Spurs have survived injuries to Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green to climb to an NBA-best 48-16.
The Lakers have not been able to stay afloat with their long list of injuries, with recent word that Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are done for the season with a combined 16 games played.
After a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder (48-17) on Thursday, the Lakers will have a difficult challenge in San Antonio on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Lakers will also play without Jordan Hill (knee) and Nick Young (knee).
In his 17th season, Tim Duncan is still one of the NBA's top big men.
His numbers are down from his true prime, but Duncan is averaging 15.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game.
The Spurs were very close to winning a title last year. Now that they're healthy, they have a real shot to get back to the NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, the Lakers match up against Duncan with Pau Gasol, who is the team's leading scorer at 17.7 points a game with 9.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Technically Duncan starts at power forward with Gasol at center, but the two will play significant minutes against each other on Friday.
The Spurs hurt teams with a balanced attack with nine players averaging at least 8.3 points a game.
Tony Parker is the Spurs' leading scorer at 17.7 points with 6.2 assists a game. The Lakers always seem to have a difficult time dealing with Parker's quickness.
Jodie Meeks may draw the defensive assignment on Parker, instead of starting point guard Kendall Marshall.
Meeks is averaging 15.3 points a game while shooting 46.2% from the field and 40.4% from three-point range.
It's the Spurs. They consistently beat downtrodden teams like the Lakers.
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