The San Antonio Spurs haven’t lost at home since November, reeling off 17 straight victories to give themselves a healthy cushion atop the Western Conference standings.
They better get a good look at the AT&T Center on Saturday night.
San Antonio tries to extend its impressive home streak against the last-place Houston Rockets before heading out on a nine-game road trip leading up to the All-Star break.
This marks the Spurs’ lone home game in a stretch of more than a month, with the team’s annual rodeo trip kicking off Tuesday in Portland and spanning nine cities in 17 days leading up to the break.
San Antonio (39-7) has spent the last three games on the road as well, and bounced back from a 96-72 loss to New Orleans last Saturday with two solid victories. Manu Ginobili(notes) had a team-high 20 points in a 113-102 win at Golden State on Monday, then led the way again by scoring 26 in a 112-105 victory over Utah on Wednesday.
The Spurs’ 10th win in 11 games didn’t come without some concerns, though. San Antonio entered the game with a middle-of-the-pack defensive field-goal percentage of 44.9, and the Jazz hit 54.7 percent of their shots.
“We are better offensively this season than we were in our championship seasons. But we need to raise the defensive level to what we had then, and we will be very, very good,” Ginobili said.
At home during the streak, the Spurs have been excellent defensively. They’ve allowed 91.6 points per game and held opponents to 41.9 percent shooting in those 17 victories, their longest at the AT&T Center since a 21-game run from March 3-Dec. 3, 2004.
Both San Antonio home losses have come against Southwest opponents - New Orleans and Dallas - and Houston (22-26) nearly won there Nov. 6. But after rallying from a 13-point, late third-quarter deficit, the Rockets faded in overtime and lost 124-121.
San Antonio was just happy to avoid an embarrassing loss.
“We would be talking about it in three months, tomorrow, next week and in a month,” Ginobili said after finishing with 28 points.
The Rockets nearly engineered an even bigger comeback Thursday night in Dallas, but again, couldn’t finish. Houston recovered from a 25-point first-half deficit and got within one with under a minute to play, but the Mavericks held on to win 111-106.
“There is no time for us not to be mentally engaged,” Adelman said. “I don’t know what the reason was. It was everybody. I put the second group in and it didn’t get any better. I don’t know why it took a while for us to wake up.”
While Ginobili is concerned the Spurs’ defense isn’t at a championship level, Houston’s is nowhere near it. Dallas shot 50.0 percent Thursday, dropping the Rockets to 9-22 when they allow opponents to shoot at least 45.0 percent.
Guard Kyle Lowry(notes) wasn’t around for the first meeting, and Houston will likely need he and Battier to contain Ginobili and Tony Parker(notes) to have a chance. Parker has averaged 22.4 points and 10.1 assists in his last five games against the Rockets.
Houston, meanwhile, could use a boost from Aaron Brooks(notes), shooting 26.8 percent in his last seven games. Last season’s Most Improved Player has averaged 23.3 points - shooting 51.4 percent - in his last four games versus San Antonio.