The Spurs and Kings will both attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when they meet at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.
San Antonio (9-9) expected to contend for the NBA title after acquiring Richard Jefferson(notes) from Milwaukee in June, but the Spurs, who are trying for their 13th straight winning season, have been plagued by inconsistency.
Short-term injuries to stars Tim Duncan(notes), Manu Ginobili(notes) and Tony Parker(notes) earlier this season didn’t help. Jefferson, who averaged 19.6 points for the Bucks in 2008-09, has struggled mightily of late, averaging 7.8 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the last five games.
Defensively, San Antonio ranks near the middle of the pack with 97.1 points per game allowed. In each of the previous 12 seasons, the Spurs ranked no lower than third in that category.
They couldn’t stop Utah when it mattered in Monday night’s 104-101 road loss. San Antonio blew a 15-point lead in the first half, then trailed by double digits in the third quarter. They rallied to take a lead with 28 seconds left, but the Jazz’s Deron Williams(notes) nailed a go-ahead jumper six seconds later.
“I thought for most of the game we played pretty well, but in the third quarter we didn’t come out with the same energy and they jumped on us,” said Parker, who finished with 22 points but also had five turnovers to give him 11 in the last two games. “In the fourth quarter, it was a battle.”
The loss left the Spurs one defeat shy of their first four-game skid since March 12-17, 2008. San Antonio has lost four in a row only three times since Duncan entered the league in 1997-98.
The Kings, meanwhile, are on the verge of their 16th skid of four games or longer since their last playoff appearance in 2006.
Led by rookie Tyreke Evans(notes) and second-year forward Jason Thompson(notes), Sacramento (9-11) has scored at least 100 points in all but two games since Nov. 2. One of those two was Tuesday night’s 96-94 loss at New Orleans, the fifth straight road defeat for the Kings and their third loss in a row overall.
Andres Nocioni(notes) missed a pair of free throws - one intentionally - with less than a second to go. Those misses spoiled one of the better defensive efforts of the season for the Kings, who have held opponents to fewer than 100 points just seven times.
“It hurts to play as well as we did and not come away with the win,” coach Paul Westphal said. “When we start learning how to win these games, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Evans had a team-best 25 points for his fourth straight 20-point performance, but the rookie guard was held to six points at San Antonio in his third NBA game, a 113-94 defeat Oct. 31.
Parker had 24 points and Jefferson added 21 as the Spurs won their sixth straight over the Kings and their 17th in 20 meetings since March 31, 2004. They’ve also won six straight and 10 of 11 at home in that span.