The San Antonio Spurs followed up a long winning streak with a pair of listless losses to two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. They hope a visit from the struggling Indiana Pacers on Wednesday will help them rebound from those defeats.
San Antonio (46-20) made only 28-of-75 shots (37.3 percent) in its 91-85 loss to Boston—the team with the worst record in the East—on Saturday. It was the Spurs’ second-worst shooting performance, better than only a 33.7 percentage in a 96-94 overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 28.
“We played terrible for three quarters,” said Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili. “We made a great effort down the stretch to come back. We were even ahead but then they made a couple of great shots and we stopped. Down the stretch we couldn’t get anything done so that means a lot in games like this.”
The defeat came after Thursday’s 101-90 loss at Milwaukee—the last-place club in the Central Division—which snapped the Spurs’ season-high 13-game winning streak. The Spurs shot 43.1 percent in that loss.
San Antonio will now try to avoid matching a season high of three straight losses set from Jan. 2-5.
The Spurs have won seven of the last eight games against the Pacers at San Antonio, including all four meetings at the AT&T Center since it opened for the 2002-03 season. Their lone home loss to Indiana in the last eight contests was a 92-82 defeat on Jan. 4, 2002, at the Alamodome.
Tim Duncan, who had 20 points and 16 rebounds Saturday, has dominated the Pacers during the four-game home winning streak with averages of 26.0 points and 11.5 rebounds. The three-time NBA Finals MVP leads the Spurs with 20.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game and has helped them already claim a postseason berth in the West.
The Pacers (30-36) hope to slow down the 7-footer, but might have to do it without Jermaine O’Neal. The All-Star center attempted a dunk in the fourth quarter of Indiana’s 86-76 loss to Houston on Tuesday and hit the floor after he was fouled by Shane Battier. O’Neal limped around for a few seconds before making one of two free throws and finished with 25 points and nine rebounds.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said O’Neal was “very doubtful” to play in San Antonio on Wednesday.
O’Neal, who leads the Pacers with 19.7 points and 9.9 boards, has been hampered by ankle, hamstring and knee injuries and the flu at various points of the season, missing nine total games.
The loss was Indiana’s eighth in a row on the road and 12th in its last 13 overall. The squad hasn’t won a road game since a 116-110 victory at Memphis— the worst team in the NBA—on Feb. 3. The Pacers are averaging just 82.1 points during their road losing streak and have been outscored by 15.3 points per game in those losses.
The poor run has dropped Indiana percentage points behind New Jersey and Orlando for seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“We needed a ‘W’ and we fought hard all game,” Pacers point guard Jamaal Tinsley said after losing to the Rockets. “But we are going to need to fight even harder. We need to find a way to win.”