Spurs look to continue home mastery of Hornets (Nov 03, 2017)

BY AP • November 3, 2017

SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs and Charlotte Hornets, two teams heading in different directions on the NBA superhighway, will square off on Friday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, with some notable streaks on the line as well as early season bragging rights.

The Spurs have lost four straight games while Charlotte has won three in a row. But San Antonio has won 10 straight home contests against the Hornets the two teams dating back to a 92-85 loss in November 2006 and captured both games against the Hornets last season.

Charlotte travels to South Texas for the only time this season on the strength of a 126-121 home win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 26 points, including 20 in the first half when the Bucks led by as many as 10. It was the 193rd time in his career that Walker has scored 20 or more points, a Charlotte record, supplanting the mark of 192 by Larry Johnson.

Rookie reserve guard Malik Monk added a career-high 25 points for Charlotte, with 18 of those coming in the fourth quarter.

"It was our time," Monk said. "The starters told us that. We always have to pick up the energy as the second group, and I was just able to knock down shots."

The Hornets (5-3) also got 17 points and 11 rebounds from Dwight Howard, 16 points from Jeremy Lamb, 15 points from Marvin Williams, 11 points from Frank Kaminsky, and 10 points from Dwayne Bacon. Charlotte the Hornets shot 53.6 percent from the field and were 14 of 25 from 3-point range for 56 percent.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford was upset at the way his team played defense against Milwaukee, calling it Charlotte's worst showing on this season in that aspect of the game.

"It's all things that can be corrected in one day," Clifford said. "We played a lot better on offense tonight. We made a lot of shots. But the game we played tonight is not a winning formula for consistency in our league. We just outscored them, that's all."

Injured Hornets guard Nic Batum told the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday he expects to be cleared to practice in the next 10 days and to be playing in the next two to three weeks. That timeline would suggest Batum is recovering well from a torn ligament in his left elbow, suffered in the preseason.

Friday's game is the second on back-to-back nights for the Spurs, who lost to Golden State 112-92 on Thursday after building, and then surrendering, a 19-point first-quarter lead.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 24 points, the seventh time in eight games he paced San Antonio in scoring. Kyle Anderson added 16 points and Pau Gasol hit for 11 as San Antonio (4-4) suffered its first defeat at home this season.

"Whether you win or lose it's a game of mistakes," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "We lost against the best team in the world and there's a lot of things we need to improve on."

It's the first time the Spurs have lost four games in a row since February 2015.

"We were playing the right way early on, with the right spacing and the right plays and hitting our shots," Gasol said. "The way we get this thing turned around is to win. We need to bring the same energy and focus we had in the first half tonight and just sustain it."

The Spurs have played their first eight games and will continue to do so for a while without star forward Kawhi Leonard and venerable point guard Tony Parker, both of whom are recovering from quad injuries. Reserve forward Joffrey Lauvergne has missed the past five games for the Spurs with a sprained ankle.

On Wednesday, Parker was recalled from his rehab stint with the G League's Austin Spurs. San Antonio has given no timeline for Parker's return to the court, although he has said he is hopeful it will happen in either November or December.



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