The San Antonio Spurs have to like their chances of becoming the first Western Conference club in 27 seasons to begin 17-0 at home.
They'll seek to bounce back from a rare defeat as they face a Denver Nuggets club they have beaten nine straight times that could be missing some key players Saturday night.
San Antonio (25-6) had a season-high, seven-game win streak snapped with Friday's 88-84 loss at Houston. The Spurs haven't dropped consecutive games all season, and there is no reason to believe that will happen Saturday.
They can become the first West club to win its first 17 home games since the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers. San Antonio has won 25 straight at home in the regular season for the longest run in club history; the longest single-season mark is 22 straight in 2010-2011.
Two wins in the Spurs' current run over the Nuggets (12-17) were 11-point victories in November. Kawhi Leonard totaled 45 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, six steals and six blocks, displaying the all-around brilliance that has made him a league MVP candidate.
San Antonio won those contests with Manu Ginobili sitting out both of them and Tim Duncan missing one. Now it is Denver which will have some important players unavailable who took part in those defeats.
Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is out with a sprained right ankle, while leading scorer Danilo Gallinari is out with a left ankle sprain. Jameer Nelson missed Wednesday's 104-96 win at Phoenix due to illness, though he could return.
The Spurs seek better execution after finishing with their lowest point total of the season Friday. They shot 40.9 percent and trailed the entire fourth quarter, committing six turnovers in the final 12 minutes.
“There were just too many mistakes down the stretch,” Duncan said. “A little bit of a sloppy game, we couldn't get our rhythm and credit them for that.”
Leonard scored 20 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 while Tony Parker made 1 of 7 shots for a season-low two points.
The Spurs look to improve to 6-0 in the second half of back-to-back contests against a Nuggets team that prevailed Wednesday despite its absences. Randy Foye, the only available point guard, scored a season-high 31 points as he made seven 3-pointers in a season-high 40-plus minutes.
“Fifteen years in the league that is one of the better wins I have been a part of,” coach Michael Malone said. “We had every reason to go out there and feel sorry for ourselves and not show up.”
The Nuggets ended a three-game slide one night after losing 111-107 at home to the West's worst team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Denver's defense was so bad that Kobe Bryant – the NBA's worst shooter – matched a season high with 31 points.
One night later, the Nuggets held the Suns to 41.4 percent shooting, with no Phoenix player scoring more than 21.
“That was a character win for a team that had been struggling,” Malone said.
Denver may be concerned about a knee injury to Gary Harris, who made 2 of 13 shots for four points Wednesday after being listed as probable.
Rookie Nikola Jokic is averaging 13.7 points in his last three games and had season highs of 23 points and 12 boards in a 109-98 road loss to the Spurs on Nov. 18.
- Danilo Gallinari
- Denver Nuggets
- Emmanuel Mudiay
- Gary Harris
- Jameer Nelson
- Kawhi Leonard
- Manu Ginobili
- Nikola Jokic
- Randy Foye
- San Antonio Spurs
- Tim Duncan
- Tony Parker