After dominating the series with the Utah Jazz for the past decade, San Antonio has found itself on the losing end of each meeting this season. The Spurs hope to attribute those defeats to part of their slow start.
Meeting for the first time in more than six weeks, San Antonio opens a season-high six-game homestand Wednesday night trying to avoid being swept in a season series by the Jazz for the first time in 16 years.
San Antonio (25-15) took all three games from Utah in 2008-09, and entered this season winning 29 of the previous 35 meetings, but things have not gone smoothly so far.
The Spurs have already lost twice in Utah, and their 20-game home winning streak over the Jazz (23-18) that dated back to Feb. 28, 1999 ended with a 90-83 defeat on Nov. 19.
The Spurs have obviously struggled with the Jazz, who haven’t swept the season series since winning all five meetings in 1993-94, but San Antonio also had problems with several other teams in the early portion of its schedule.
With a 104-101 loss at Utah on Dec. 7 in the most recent meeting, the Spurs dropped to 9-9 and fell to ninth in the Western Conference. San Antonio’s typically stingy defense was allowing an average of 97.1 points, and injuries to Tim Duncan(notes), Tony Parker(notes) and Manu Ginobili(notes) slowed the offense.
Although Parker is still bothered by a sore back, the defense is playing much better.
San Antonio has won 16 of 22 games since then to move into fourth place in the West. The defense is allowing an average of 94.0 points in the last 22, and has held three of its last five opponents at home to 85 points or fewer.
Now, San Antonio will try and slow down Utah’s red-hot offense.
The Jazz shot 51.9 percent Sunday at Denver, but failed to get many stops on defense and lost 119-112 to snap a four-game winning streak. Utah is still averaging 110.0 points on 51.8 percent shooting - including 45.9 percent from beyond the arc - in its last five games.
Although the Jazz ended their long skid in San Antonio, they haven’t had much success on the road lately, losing eight of 12.
The Spurs, meanwhile, have won nine of 11 at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio concluded a four-game road trip with a 97-90 win over New Orleans on Monday. Parker showed no signs of his ailing back, finishing with 25 points after being held to four on 2 of 8 shooting in Saturday’s 92-86 loss to Memphis.
“I’m in surviving mode. It’s tough,” said Parker, who is averaging 21.5 points in two games against Utah this season. “I can’t look at myself in the mirror and say I can’t play. It’s just like nagging injuries. … It’s good days and bad days. I felt pretty good (Monday).”
Duncan added 21 points and 14 rebounds against the Hornets, and needs just 15 points to become the seventh active player with at least 20,000.
The 11-time All-Star has scored at least 15 points in all three games against the Jazz, and had 23 with 11 boards in the last game against them.