Given their lofty expectations and tradition of excellence on the court, the San Antonio Spurs are considered to be in a slump. The Seattle SuperSonics, meanwhile, would love to be in San Antonio's situation right now.
The defending champion Spurs try to break out of their recent funk on Tuesday when they visit the SuperSonics, who are in the midst of a franchise-record 14-game losing streak.
San Antonio (28-15) opened a season-high nine-game road trip Monday with a 97-91 loss to Utah. It was the second straight loss for the Spurs and sixth in their last 11 games.
Since Dec. 18, when they owned a Western Conference-best 18-6 record, the Spurs have dropped to fifth in the West while going a pedestrian 10-9. San Antonio, which has finished first or second in its division each year since 1997-98, is in third place in the Southwest Division, 3 1/2 games back of conference-leading New Orleans.
"We need to go out there and play well and get some confidence going,'' said Tim Duncan, who was selected to his 11th straight All-Star team on Thursday. "We've got a tough stretch here with so many games on the road. We've got to start somewhere.''
While San Antonio is very much alive in the race for the top spot in the conference despite its slide, Seattle (9-35) is already 23 games out of first in the West, 17 1/2 games behind Northwest Division-leading Utah, and 17 games out of a playoff spot.
The Sonics' skid continued Sunday with a 103-101 home loss to Sacramento. Seattle has not won since defeating league-worst Minnesota on Dec. 29.
"They all (stink), all 14 of them,'' Seattle's Damien Wilkins said of his team's string of defeats. "There are no moral victories. We worked too hard for that. We're trying to win.''
The Sonics are going to have a tough time ending their skid against the Spurs.
San Antonio has defeated Seattle six straight times by an average margin of 22.5 points since a 106-102 loss on March 26, 2006. The Spurs have also won 16 of their last 19 games against the Sonics and eight of the last 10 meetings in Seattle, including a 116-101 victory on Nov. 25.
Duncan had 26 points against the Sonics in November, and is averaging 16.3 points and 10.8 rebounds during the winning streak in the series. He also had 26 points and 11 rebounds in Monday's loss.
Manu Ginobili had 29 points Monday, equaling his total from the previous two games combined. He had 22 points - including a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point range - at Seattle earlier this season, and is averaging 20.4 points while shooting 16-for-27 from beyond the 3-point arc in his last five visits to Key Arena.
The Sonics, who have lost the first three games of a season-high seven-game homestand, are tied with Miami for the worst home record in the league at 5-16.
Rookie Kevin Durant scored a team-high 19 points on Sunday, but was just 5-for-20 from the field. Durant had a much better shooting performance against the Spurs in November, scoring 25 points while shooting 11-for-17 from the floor - a season best.
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