The San Antonio Spurs are in dire need of a victory after losing five of their past six games, and might have found the right team to get one against.
The Spurs square off with the hapless and short-handed Memphis Grizzlies on Monday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The Spurs (36-27) have lost two straight home games in which they’ve had double-digit leads in the fourth quarter.
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San Antonio has been stung by the absence of star forward Kawhi Leonard, who has missed all but nine games this season with a lingering quad injury. Also, most recently, an ankle injury to leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge caused him to miss the second half of the Spurs’ loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. He did not suit up in the Spurs’ 116-112 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
“We are not in a good stretch,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Things are not happening. Sometimes it’s frustrating because we bring it, we execute and we play hard, but then it’s like a snowball down the stretch.
“Some little things start to happen and it compounds. And, again, with LA (Aldridge) not on the court, we’re missing something.”
“Our margin of error is very, very small because of our situation and our dynamic right now,” Gasol said. “We’ve just got to minimize mistakes. We’ve got to be really sharp, as much as we can, so we put ourselves in better positions.”
The Grizzlies head to San Antonio on the heels of a 107-100 loss at the Orlando Magic on Saturday. Memphis led by seven points, 84-77, with 11:24 left in the game but couldn’t hold on, missing six of eight attempts from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Memphis owns the NBA’s worst record (18-44) and hasn’t won since Jan. 29 when it beat the Phoenix Suns at home. The Grizzlies have lost 13 consecutive games, its longest losing streak of the season, tying the team’s longest losing streak within a single season since relocating to Memphis.
This is their second double-digit skid this season. The Grizzlies lost 11 in a row before Christmas. Memphis has also lost every one of its road games since the calendar turned to 2018.
Ben McLemore scored 20 points in the loss to Orlando, and Jarell Martin registered 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who were without six players.
JaMychal Green totaled 10 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high seven assists, and Mario Chalmers added 15 points before departing in the fourth quarter with a right hamstring injury.
Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff hates the losing as much as anyone and said Saturday that his players are giving their all.
“You’ve got a bunch of guys who are committed to doing the right thing — and there’s only so many moral victories that you can have,” Bickerstaff said. “And it hurts them because they’re giving so much. They’re competing so hard.
“You can’t tell me a guy that didn’t leave it all out there tonight. And circumstances are what they are. But like I said, you hurt for these guys. And you want them to be rewarded with a ‘W.’ “
Injuries have had plenty to do with the Grizzlies’ dismal season. Memphis is 11-39 (.220) this season without star guard Mike Conley, who will miss the remainder of the season following surgery to smooth a small bone protrusion in his left heel.
It’s also 0-13 this season without Tyreke Evans, who has missed the last five games with a right rib injury.
Evans is listed as “out” for Monday’s game against the Spurs, as is forward Marc Gasol.
Memphis has lost its last six games at San Antonio since a triple-overtime victory (117-116) on Dec. 17, 2014.