Kings-Spurs Preview

The San Antonio Spurs aren’t accustomed to four-game losing

streaks. The Sacramento Kings could tell them all about it.

The Spurs and Kings will both attempt to avoid a fourth

consecutive loss when they meet at the AT&T Center on Wednesday

night.

San Antonio (9-9) expected to contend for the NBA title after

acquiring Richard Jefferson from Milwaukee in June, but the Spurs,

who are trying for their 13th straight winning season, have been

plagued by inconsistency.

Short-term injuries to stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony

Parker earlier this season didn’t help. Jefferson, who averaged

19.6 points for the Bucks in 2008-09, has struggled mightily of

late, averaging 7.8 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the last

five games.

Defensively, San Antonio ranks near the middle of the pack with

97.1 points per game allowed. In each of the previous 12 seasons,

the Spurs ranked no lower than third in that category.

They couldn’t stop Utah when it mattered in Monday night’s

104-101 road loss. San Antonio blew a 15-point lead in the first

half, then trailed by double digits in the third quarter. They

rallied to take a lead with 28 seconds left, but the Jazz’s Deron

Williams nailed a go-ahead jumper six seconds later.

“I thought for most of the game we played pretty well, but in

the third quarter we didn’t come out with the same energy and they

jumped on us,” said Parker, who finished with 22 points but also

had five turnovers to give him 11 in the last two games. “In the

fourth quarter, it was a battle.”

The loss left the Spurs one defeat shy of their first four-game

skid since March 12-17, 2008. San Antonio has lost four in a row

only three times since Duncan entered the league in 1997-98.

The Kings, meanwhile, are on the verge of their 16th skid of

four games or longer since their last playoff appearance in

2006.

Led by rookie Tyreke Evans and second-year forward Jason

Thompson, Sacramento (9-11) has scored at least 100 points in all

but two games since Nov. 2. One of those two was Tuesday night’s

96-94 loss at New Orleans, the fifth straight road defeat for the

Kings and their third loss in a row overall.

Andres Nocioni missed a pair of free throws – one intentionally

– with less than a second to go. Those misses spoiled one of the

better defensive efforts of the season for the Kings, who have held

opponents to fewer than 100 points just seven times.

“It hurts to play as well as we did and not come away with the

win,” coach Paul Westphal said. “When we start learning how to win

these games, it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Evans had a team-best 25 points for his fourth straight 20-point

performance, but the rookie guard was held to six points at San

Antonio in his third NBA game, a 113-94 defeat Oct. 31.

Parker had 24 points and Jefferson added 21 as the Spurs won

their sixth straight over the Kings and their 17th in 20 meetings

since March 31, 2004. They’ve also won six straight and 10 of 11 at

home in that span.