San Antonio and Orlando, two teams in desperate need of a victory to quell long losing streaks, meet on Tuesday in a some-one's-got-to-win-so-how-about-us game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs have lost three in a row and five of their past six outings. San Antonio has won just three of its past 14 games and has fallen back into the pack and into a scramble to earn a spot in the postseason.
San Antonio returns home after a disastrous three-game road trip in which it was beaten by Golden State, Oklahoma City and Houston, three teams ahead of it in the Western Conference standings. The latest defeat was at the hands of the Rockets, 109-93, on Monday.
LaMarcus Aldridge (knee) and Manu Ginobili (rest) missed the Houston game while star forward Kawhi Leonard remains out as he rehabs a right quad injury that's limited him to nine games this season.
"Our guys played hard, and showed good effort tonight," Spurs coach Greg Popovich said after the game on Monday. "Everyone tries to be the best they can be by playoff time and that will be our goal, too."
The downward spiral has sunk the Spurs into 10th place in the conference standings and placed their streak of 20 consecutive playoff seasons in jeopardy. San Antonio hasn't missed the postseason since the 1996-97 season, when Tim Duncan was a senior at Wake Forest.
"Our mindset (against Orlando) is to go out and make sure we win a game," San Antonio forward Pau Gasol said. "We need to build some momentum and some confidence. It's not easy to lose under any circumstances. We have to dig in and trust each other and go out and compete."
The Magic head to the Alamo City on the heels of a 113-105 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday that was Orlando's fourth setback in a row and the 11th in its past 13 games. Jonathon Simmons led the Magic with 24 points in the loss to the Clippers, while D.J. Augustin netted 19 points.
Orlando led 89-87 heading into the final stanza, but were outscored during the final 12 minutes, 26-16. "I'm proud of how we played," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "I thought (the Clippers game) had a chance to be ugly."
Tuesday's game is the last of a season-high, five-game road trip; the Magic has lost seven straight road games dating back to a 111-109 win at Miami on Feb. 5.
Aaron Gordon is expected to play in the San Antonio game after missing the past three because of concussion symptoms. Gordon, the Magic's leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, practiced Monday and said afterward he felt a bit winded.
"These are the best players in the world," Gordon said. "If you miss a couple of days, your rhythm is going to be a little bit off. But you get it back within a day or so."
The Magic won the first meeting of the season against San Antonio, posting a 114-87 win on Oct. 27 in Orlando that produced the Magic's largest margin of victory ever against the Spurs and snapped a 10-game losing streak to San Antonio.