The San Antonio Spurs bounced back from their most lopsided loss of the season with one of their most impressive wins. Less than 24 hours later, they’ll have to guard against a letdown.
The Spurs have lost just once at home since December and twice in their history against the Charlotte Bobcats, dominant stints they’ll look to continue Saturday night at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (55-13) has a record that’s six games ahead of their next-closest pursuer, but the past two weeks have raised major questions regarding its claim as the NBA’s best team. The Spurs trailed by as many as 32 in a 99-83 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on March 6 - their first at home since Nov. 26 - and were embarrassed 110-80 on Monday in Miami.
That left plenty of time for coach Gregg Popovich to fire up his team prior to Friday’s visit to Dallas, and San Antonio played like an inspired group. Tony Parker(notes), Manu Ginobili(notes) and Tim Duncan(notes) combined for 80 points and the Spurs won 97-91, taking a big step toward clinching the Southwest Division by pulling 7 1/2 games ahead of the Mavericks.
“When you have Pop in your ear for three days, it can be a long three days,” said Parker, who had 33 points. “In the film sessions we talked about not playing physical, not playing with intensity or playing good defense. Tonight we wanted to make sure we stayed in front of people and made sure their shots were hard.”
Now, San Antonio returns home, where it’s 13-0 against Eastern opponents.
The Bobcats (28-40), meanwhile, have been woeful lately in interconference road contests. They lost 94-78 at Houston on Wednesday and weren’t much more competitive Friday in Oklahoma City, falling 99-82.
Coach Paul Silas’ team has averaged just 79.9 points while losing seven straight road games to Western foes by an average of 17.8 points. Seven losses in nine games overall, meanwhile, have left the Bobcats 1 1/2 games behind Indiana for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot.
“It’s tough because losing is always tough,” Silas said. “We just have to pick it up and all I ask is that we play hard and play tough and I thought we did that for a certain point and then really fell off, which makes it difficult to really assess where we are now.”
Charlotte has averaged 83.3 points in 13 games against San Antonio since entering the league, and its only road win in the series came 95-92 in overtime on Nov. 15, 2006.
Ginobili had 26 points to lead the Spurs to a 95-91 win on Nov. 8 in Charlotte.
Slowing down the Argentinian All-Star seems to be the best way to have a chance against San Antonio. The Spurs are 33-3 when Ginobili scores at least 18.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, are desperate for offense as they’ve averaged 84.2 points over their past 10 games.
Former Spur Stephen Jackson(notes) missed three of those contests with a strained left hamstring, but he’s had a tough month when he’s been on the court. Jackson has averaged 13.8 points and shot 30.8 percent in six games since March 2.
Charlotte is 15-11 when Jackson scores 21 points or more, and 13-29 otherwise.