Two days after having its season-high 13-game winning streak snapped by Philadelphia, Ginobili—third on the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game— was placed on the injured list Monday with a lower back sprain. He will miss at least five games.
The Spurs won their first game without Ginobili, 94-72 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
Tim Duncan had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Spurs, who are holding opponents to a league-low 82.3 points per game. Duncan averages 15.6 rebounds per game against the Hornets, the highest among all active players.
The Spurs held Washington to 32.9 percent shooting from the field (26-for-79) and outshot the Wizards on free throws 80 percent to 54.8 percent— the first time San Antonio had a better free-throw shooting percentage than its opponent since Dec. 6.
During the previous five games, San Antonio had made only 77 of 138 free throws (55.8 percent).
“We’ve struggled from the free-throw line lately,” said center Rasho Nesterovic, who made his only attempt.
Gregg Popovich, the NBA’s coach of the month for December, feels his team is jelling on both ends of the court as it enters the contest with an NBA-leading 13-2 record against the East.
“We’re much further along than I thought,” he said. “On defense we rebounded and they shared the ball on offense. … They’re starting to get the flow.”
The Hornets, meanwhile, have won three of four following a 97-87 win over Washington on Wednesday.
Wesley scored 12 of his 20 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers, while Baron Davis had 28 points and 10 assists.
The Hornets, four games back of Central Division-leading Indiana, play 11 of their next 15 games at home.
“This could be an important month when we can really make a run and maybe even take over first place,” Wesley said.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 7): Spurs - 1st place (tied), Midwest Division. Hornets - 3rd place, 4 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 21.9 ppg and 13 rpg; Parker, 6 apg. Hornets - Davis, 24 ppg and 8.3 apg; Brown, 9.4 rpg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Spurs, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: March 30; Spurs, 92-90. At New Orleans, having saved a possession by diving for a loose ball and calling timeout, Duncan hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 32 seconds left in a game that had 19 lead changes.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 9-7 on the road; Hornets - 11-4 at home.