Spurs-Hornets Preview

The San Antonio Spurs appeared to solve their recent road

struggles with back-to-back wins away from home, but a lopsided

loss to finish their most recent trip could be cause for

concern.

San Antonio, though, should be primed to bounce back Monday

night when it visits the New Orleans Hornets, who have lost seven

straight home games.

While they’ve won 10 straight at home, the Spurs (27-9) are

trying to avoid their sixth loss in eight road games.

“(The Hornets) never stop coming at you,” said coach Gregg

Popovich, whose team has beaten New Orleans twice this season by a

combined nine points. “We’ve got to keep our focus.”

San Antonio seemed to have broken out of its funk on the road

with victories at Dallas and Milwaukee after losing four in a row

away from home Dec. 12-18. The Spurs, however, had a seven-game

overall winning streak snapped Thursday when they shot 36.4 percent

in a 100-83 loss at New York.

Popovich’s team ranks among the top three in the NBA in scoring,

but has averaged just 99.4 points in its last seven road games

compared to 112.8 in its last five at home.

Tony Parker will try to provide a boost after totaling 48 points

on 19-of-36 (52.8 percent) shooting in the first two games against

the Hornets. Tim Duncan has averaged 19.5 points and 10.5 rebounds

in the season series, posting 24 and 11 while shooting 10 of 15 in

a 99-95 win at New Orleans in the season opener Oct. 31.

Parker, Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who combined for just 30

points against the Knicks, totaled 55 on 21-of-36 shooting Saturday

in a 109-86 home victory over Philadelphia.

After shooting 10 for 38 (26.3 percent) from 3-point range in

the first two meetings with New Orleans, the Spurs look for a

better shooting performance against a Hornets team that ranks near

the bottom of the league in defensive field goal percentage

(46.3).

The Hornets (8-25) are 3-13 at home to match Washington for the

league’s worst mark. New Orleans, though, has gone 3-3 overall

since an 11-game losing streak, showing some life since guard Eric

Gordon returned to the lineup Dec. 29 following arthroscopic knee

surgery.

Gordon has averaged 16.3 points despite shooting 32.6 percent

from the floor, helping the Hornets win two of the three games he’s

been able to play. He made his first start of the season Saturday

and his three-point play with 4.7 seconds left in overtime gave New

Orleans a 99-96 win at Dallas.

“He is going to get attention and it’s going to make my job

easier,” point guard Greivis Vasquez said. “Having him back is

going to help because it will help us get in a rhythm both

defensively and offensively.”

Vasquez looks to keep his hot hand after averaging 20.0 points

on 51.5 percent shooting and 10.5 assists in his last six

games.

Rookie Anthony Davis has played well in his first two games

against the Spurs with 39 points on 14-of-25 shooting and 18

rebounds, but he’s averaged just 7.3 points over his last four

contests.

The Hornets rank among the lowest-scoring teams in the NBA (91.7

ppg) and haven’t reached 100 in 11 straight games.

The Spurs have won six straight over the Hornets and six of

seven in New Orleans.