The San Antonio Spurs followed up an 11-game winning streak with a pair of road losses. They hope a return home can help them shake that funk as they also look to create some breathing room atop the Southwest Division.
San Antonio will try to accomplish both on Monday night against the Denver Nuggets, the team that halted its best run of the season.
The Spurs (43-19), owners of the fourth-best home record in the NBA at 26-5, lead the Southwest by one game over red-hot Houston and New Orleans. The Rockets are going for their 19th consecutive win against New Jersey - losers of five straight - on Monday, while the Hornets are idle.
San Antonio will try to avoid matching a season-high three-game slide after falling 94-87 at Phoenix on Sunday. The Spurs squandered a five-point lead with 3:40 to play.
“I had two turnovers and two missed layups down the stretch,” said the Spurs’ Tim Duncan, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds. “We’re up five with three-something left-a situation where we usually play a lot better than that.”
Sunday’s defeat came two nights after a 109-96 loss at Denver (37-25), which ended San Antonio’s 11-game run. The Spurs have dropped two of three to the Nuggets this season, and have not lost a season series to them since 1987-88.
San Antonio, which is seeking a sixth consecutive win at the AT&T Center, has alternated wins with Denver in the last six home meetings, including a 102-91 victory on Dec. 15.
The Spurs hope Manu Ginobili, the team-leader with 20.7 points per game, can help snap that trend. He had 22 points Sunday after putting up 24 against the Nuggets. The guard is also averaging 25.8 points on 52.6 percent shooting (110-for-209) over the last 13 games.
The Nuggets, losers of five of their last six road games, are looking to close the two-game gap on idle Golden State for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference after losing 132-105 at Utah on Saturday.
“It’s important for us to take all of the positive things we did tonight - what little positive things there were - to San Antonio and leave the negative here,” said the Nuggets’ Allen Iverson, who had 28 points despite a sprained finger on his right hand.
Iverson, the third-leading scorer in the league at 26.8 points per game, suffered the injury against the Spurs on Friday, but he still managed to shoot 10-for-16 to finish with 29 points and nine assists. Iverson had 30 in his last game at San Antonio.
Carmelo Anthony wasn’t as successful in that matchup, scoring 15. However, he had 25 on Friday, and followed that up with 24 against the Jazz. Anthony is right behind Iverson with 25.9 points per game, ranking fourth in the NBA.
Denver hopes to have Kenyon Martin back in the lineup after he suffered a mild concussion nine minutes into Saturday’s loss when he was hit by an elbow from Mehmet Okur. The forward is third on the team in scoring (11.4) and second in rebounding (6.3).