Despite having their nine-game winning streak snapped in their last game, the San Antonio Spurs will be finishing out another extremely successful Rodeo Road Trip when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Spurs fell to 6-1 on their road swing with a 101-87 loss to Cleveland on Monday night. The loss was the first since Jan. 22 for San Antonio, which is forced on the extended trip each February when the rodeo comes to the AT&T Center.
The Spurs haven’t missed a beat during the long trip in the past three seasons. San Antonio went 5-2 in 2005, won six of seven two years ago and was 8-1 during the stretch in 2003.
Any hopes of a perfect trip this season, however, were spoiled by LeBron James on Monday.
The Cavaliers star scored 44 points, five less than the Spurs starting lineup, to power Cleveland to the big victory.
“It was a bad combination for LeBron to be great and us giving up all those turnovers and offensive rebounds,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team turned the ball over 18 times to Cleveland’s five and was beaten 18-6 on the offensive glass.
James was also responsible for shutting down the Western Conference player of the week, holding Tony Parker to 2-for-7 shooting for four points. Parker, who also had seven turnovers, averaged 22.7 points and 9.3 assists in three games last week.
“A lot of teams like to put a bigger player on me,” Parker said. “A lot of times, I backed him off but didn’t hit the shot. I’ve got to hit the shots.”
Tim Duncan had a team-high 19 points for the Spurs, who suffered their first loss in 10 road games. The defeat dropped them into a first-place tie in the Southwest Division with Dallas, which defeated New York on Monday night.
Philadelphia suffered its third straight loss and fifth in six games Sunday, 107-97 at Washington. Allen Iverson had 33 points and Chris Webber added 24, but the 76ers were outscored 32-19 in the third quarter. Iverson scored only two points in the period.
“In the third quarter, everything went wrong,” he said. “You have to approach both halves the same way and we are not doing it. I don’t know how, but I know that it has to be done. I know if we get frustrated and start turning on each other that it is only going to get worse. Like always, you just have to find out what character you have on the team.”
Philadelphia will be trying to avoid tying the team’s longest losing streak of the season. The Sixers dropped four in a row from Nov. 30-Dec. 7.
The 76ers have dropped the last three meetings with the Spurs. Iverson is averaging 29.4 points in 16 games against San Antonio, and had 37 when the teams last met in December.