Still searching for answers as they try to end their road slump, the San Antonio Spurs might have a tough time finding them in a showdown at Memphis.
While the Spurs hope to avoid their seventh loss in nine road games, the Grizzlies look for their fourth straight win as the top two teams in the Southwest Division meet on Friday night.
Memphis (23-10) has a chance to gain ground, entering this game trailing San Antonio (28-10) by 2 1/2 games.
The Spurs, however, have beaten the Grizzlies five straight times, including a 99-95 overtime win on Dec. 1, since Memphis stunned top-seeded San Antonio in the first round of the 2010-11 playoffs.
"You never forget those kinds of series," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "Memphis is playing well so it's going to be a tough game."
San Antonio captured its 11th straight victory at home with a 108-105 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, but has struggled to find the same success on the road.
Eight of its 10 losses have come there, the latest a 95-88 defeat at New Orleans on Monday that snapped the Hornets' seven-game home losing streak.
San Antonio ranks among the top three in the NBA in scoring at 104.9 points per game, but has averaged just 85.5 in its last two road games compared to 112.0 in its last six at home.
Guard Manu Ginobili, though, has given the team a spark, averaging 19.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his last three games.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 57 points to lead the Spurs past the visiting Grizzlies in December. Duncan is still posting big numbers against Memphis, averaging 24.7 points and 14.7 rebounds in the last three meetings.
While the Spurs made 12 of 25 (48.0 percent) from beyond the arc against the Lakers, they've hit on 15 of 55 (27.3 percent) in their last two road games.
It doesn't figure to get any easier against a Memphis team leading the NBA in scoring defense (89.1). The Grizzlies have held opponents to just 82.6 points per game over their last seven contests.
"We're just going to have to play a little bit better," Parker said. "That's the NBA season, you're going to have ups and downs."
The Grizzlies return home, where they're 13-4, after sweeping a three-game West Coast road trip. Memphis won for the fourth time in five games with a 94-87 victory at Golden State on Wednesday night.
"We've been going through some ups and downs and had some lapses, some kind of lapse games," guard Rudy Gay said. "We had to come out here for ourselves to get three out of three.''
After outscoring the Warriors 60-34 in the paint, the Grizzlies rank near the top of the NBA in points in the paint at 43.8 per game. That could be a factor against the Spurs, who rank in the bottom third of the league this month with an average of 42.4 paint points allowed.
Forward Zach Randolph has made a major impact inside, leading the NBA with 23 double-doubles. He had 17 points and 15 rebounds in last month's loss at San Antonio despite shooting 5 for 21.
Center Marc Gasol has scored 18.7 points per game on 23-of-39 (59.0 percent) in his last three against the Spurs.
The Grizzlies would like to improve their efficiency from the outside after hitting a season-low 2 for 17 (11.8 percent) from 3-point range on Wednesday.
The Spurs have one of the toughest perimeter defenses in the league, ranking second in opponent 3-point percentage (32.7).
- Sports & Recreation