Spurs go for four in row against sliding Bucks
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs look to continue their recent run of success when they host the reeling Milwaukee Bucks on Friday at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio, despite a slew of players missing with injuries, has won three consecutive games after losing four in a row. The Spurs (7-4) will be playing the fifth contest of a six-game homestand.
On Tuesday, the Spurs posted a 120-97 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in which they roared back from a halftime deficit and scored a season-high 40 points in the third quarter, 26 of which came over the final six minutes.
LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 25 points and Danny Green added a season-high 24 points against Los Angeles. Rudy Gay tallied a season-high-tying 22 points while Pau Gasol hit for 19 points and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds.
“We need this kind and balance and contribution from a bunch of players, especially with some of our guys out right now,” Green said. “It still starts with defense for us, regardless of how well we play on offense. We adjusted, make some better plays and communicated better there in the third quarter.”
San Antonio shot 53.6 percent and had 33 assists in the victory.
“They are just trying to do what we want them to do,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of his players. “Making shots has been a problem for us in some games. We’ve got some guys who are shooting very poorly as compared to their history, but (against the Clippers) they shot the way they have for most of their careers. We hit the open man and were in attack mode.”
Popovich announced prior to the Tuesday game that star forward Kawhi Leonard’s recovery from an offseason quadriceps injury is headed in the right direction, but the rehab has “just been taking a little bit longer.”
“Kawhi’s just coming along more slowly for whatever reason,” Popovich said. “It’s just been more difficult for him to get through the rehab routine, so his body hasn’t reacted the same way.”
Leonard has not played a game this season due to the injury to his right leg. The Spurs have stayed afloat without Leonard, who was an MVP candidate last season, and venerable point guard Tony Parker.
Milwaukee heads to the Alamo City for the only time this season on the heels of a 124-119 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
Newly acquired point guard Eric Bledsoe participated in the morning shootaround and will be in the starting lineup for Friday night’s game.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd told reporters that Bledsoe will get the start over reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, who has started all nine of Milwaukee’s games this season.
Brogdon will come off the bench in San Antonio at AT&T Center, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Brogdon is averaging 16.2 points and 4.9 assists this season after making 28 starts as a rookie.
The Bucks acquired Bledsoe on Tuesday from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for injured center Greg Monroe and protected 2018 first and second-round picks.
Kidd liked what he saw after Bledsoe participated in his first shootaround with the Bucks.
“For his first day of shootaround, you could see the dynamic of his speed, something that we don’t have at that position,” Kidd said. “So we’ll find out here quickly. It’s going to take some time for him to understand his teammates and understand the defensive and offensive schemes.
“But he’s a pro. He’s a very smart young man. He can help us. He’s going to start (Friday). We’re going to start him and start that relationship with the starting group.”
Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s top scorer at 31.9 points per game, had a game-high 40 points and added nine rebounds in the loss to Cleveland. He has scored at least 28 points in nine of Milwaukee’s 10 games.
Brogdon scored 22 points and Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and 11 assists for the Bucks, who lost their fourth straight contest.
The two teams split their season series last year, with each winning on the road.
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