Hornets-Spurs Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 20, 2012
Another road-heavy stretch left the San Antonio Spurs weary and looking forward to one of their longest homestands of the season. They'll try to begin that stay by avoiding their longest losing streak in more than 20 months Friday night against the lowly New Orleans Hornets, losers of nine in a row. San Antonio (19-8) has played 12 of its last 16 games away from home, and that travel appeared to have taken its toll as the Spurs dropped their fourth straight road game Tuesday at Denver. They couldn't take advantage of Tim Duncan's splendid all-around effort in that 112-106 defeat, their second in as many nights. The veteran had a season-high 31 points along with 18 rebounds, six assists and five blocks, but no other San Antonio player provided more than 16 points. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Gary Neal were a combined 11 of 42 in the team's worst shooting performance in nearly a month (40.0 percent). "We've been on the road a lot and I just think we're a little bit tired and don't have the same energy," Parker said. "It's been a tough schedule but ... now we get two days off to rejuvenate and we have a long stretch at home to get it back." The Spurs will try to use that rest to help them once again avoid a three-game skid. A 103-88 home win over Boston on Saturday prevented their first such losing streak in the regular season since a set of six consecutive defeats March 23-April 1, 2011. The first of four straight games at the AT&T Center, where they've won four in a row, could help them stop their slide - and a visit from the Hornets (5-20) probably won't hurt. The Western Conference's last-place team is on the verge of its first 10-game losing streak in eight seasons. "We have to really focus on these games, get back on a winning streak and get back to feeling good about ourselves," Duncan said. New Orleans has averaged 88.1 points during its skid, and it had one of its worst offensive performances of the season in a 93-77 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Robin Lopez posted a season-high 22 points and No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis added 16, but no other player scored in double figures as the Hornets shot 38.7 percent - 2 of 19 from 3-point range. "We have to watch the film and see what we did wrong and what breakdowns we had, so we can execute better," said leading scorer Ryan Anderson, who tied a season low with seven points and missed all eight of his attempts from beyond the arc. "Our focus could be a lot better and our energy. There's a lot of things we can work on." Heading into the finale of a four-game trip, New Orleans has lost five straight on the road and five consecutive matchups with the Spurs. The Hornets have two wins in their last 19 visits to San Antonio including postseason. The Spurs, though, needed Parker's go-ahead 3-pointer with 49.6 seconds left to lift them to a 99-95 win in New Orleans in the season opener for both teams Oct. 31. Duncan also hit a pair of late free throws while scoring a game-high 24 points and Parker finished with 23. Davis had a team-best 21 points in his NBA debut.
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