After routing the worst team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs hope to take advantage of another struggling opponent Monday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers, a team they have lost to once at home in almost 21 years.
The Spurs (24-11), who are one game behind first-place Dallas in the Southwest Division, have won 19 of the last 20 home meetings with the 76ers (14-23). The lone loss in that span was an 83-77 defeat on Jan. 3, 2004 that snapped the Spurs’ 16-game home winning streak in the series, which started on Feb. 26, 1987.
San Antonio has taken five of the last six overall meetings against Philadelphia, winning both last season.
The Spurs are 18-3 at home for the best mark in the Western Conference. However, all of those losses have come in the last eight games at the AT&T Center after they opened the season with a 13-game winning streak there.
Those struggles at home are part of an overall 15-game stretch in which San Antonio has lost eight times.
“We can always play better, any team can play better whether you’re the worst team in the league or the best team in the league,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs appeared to be getting back on track Saturday as Manu Ginobili scored 22 points in a 105-88 win over league-worst Minnesota.
“Actually, the last probably 10-15 games I felt like we could have played better,” Ginobili said. “We are just not playing well.
“We look frustrated and sometimes things look like they are going bad and they are not going bad at all. I guess it’s just a mental block and hopefully we are going to come back to play the way we were playing in November.”
Ginobili, one of the top reserves in the league with 19.1 points per game, is playing with a splint on his left index finger, which he injured in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 22. The injury caused him to miss five games, and he has scored 20 or more points in three of the four games since his return.
The Spurs also hope to continue getting strong contributions from point guard Tony Parker, the team’s leader with 20.3 points and 6.5 assists per game. He had 21 points and eight assists against the Timberwolves after struggling with only 12 and four, respectively, in a 90-80 loss to Detroit on Thursday.
The Sixers, meanwhile, are looking to halt a season-high six-game losing streak with their first win of the new year. They haven’t won since beating Seattle 98-90 on Dec. 31, and last dropped seven games in a row during a 12-game slide from Nov. 25-Dec. 20, 2006.
Philadelphia saw its current slide continue Friday with a 100-97 loss to Chicago.
“The ball is just not falling our way right now,” said Sixers point guard Andre Miller, who scored 20 points against the Bulls. “We’ve played some good teams and we have to make some shots, play good defense and continue to fight through this.”
Philadelphia hopes center Samuel Dalembert can build on a terrific effort Friday, as he scored 21 points and grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds after getting only eight points and six boards in a 109-96 loss at Toronto on Wednesday. The center is averaging career highs of 11.4 points and a team-leading 9.8 boards.