In Charlotte, Spurs look to continue road success
If you're an NBA team trying to end a losing streak, the San Antonio Spurs are not likely the opponent you'd want to square off against.
That's the task at hand for the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday when they host surging San Antonio at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
The Spurs (10-3) have been nearly bulletproof on the road to open the season, going 7-0 and winning games in Oakland against Golden State, in Houston and twice in Sacramento. But this three-game stretch — which starts in Charlotte, heads to Boston and ends in Washington, D.C. — undoubtedly will test the San Antonio's mettle.
San Antonio heads to the Queen City on the heels of a lethargic 96-91 win against shorthanded Dallas on Monday that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich labeled “awful” and “pathetic.” Just think about how Popovich can go off when San Antonio loses.
The Spurs are still trying to find the proper roles for the seven new players on their roster. San Antonio rested guard Tony Parker and forward LaMarcus Aldridge against the Mavericks, a common practice for Popovich no matter the opponent as he looks at the season's big picture.
“Everyone needs some time to adjust to our system,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said after the win on Monday. “It is what it is; we understand that that's the way it is. We all come from different roles. Once you get adjusted to it, you understand what Pop's looking for from us.”
Spurs reserve forward David Lee, one of those newcomers, scored 12 points in the win over Dallas. He said the difference in the way San Antonio has played on the road as compared to home is nothing to be concerned about.
“Sometimes it just works out that way,” Lee said. “(Monday) we were without Tony and LaMarcus, two of the guys that really get us in rhythm. I just think we've had a couple of games where we haven't played our best at home.”
Charlotte (8-5) fell behind by 22 at halftime and never rallied in a 105-90 loss at home to Memphis on Monday. It's just the second time this season that the Hornets have lost consecutive games.
“This whole thing is about getting better,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “San Antonio is an elite team and we have to play to our game, which starts with having the right intensity, the right detail and the right togetherness. We have to start better and we have to sustain better.”
Guard Kemba Walker is averaging 24.7 points in 13 games, which is the second most points a Charlotte player has averaged since Glen Rice posted 26.8 in 1996-97. It marks only the second time a player has averaged more than 23 points in Charlotte history and is the highest scoring average since Al Jefferson averaged 21.8 in 2013-14.
Backcourt mate guard Nicolas Batum continues to be one of the most versatile players in the league, doing everything from scoring, setting up his teammates and rebounding. Batum is averaging 14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists and is one of only five players in the NBA averaging 14-6-5.
“We didn't have the energy we usually have,” Batum said after the loss to Memphis. “Maybe we had some hangover from the loss in New Orleans, which was really tough. We have to move on and get ready for San Antonio.”