Spurs @ Celtics Preview: 11/21/12
The San Antonio Spurs are looking very thin on their front line after another key injury.
They'll begin a six-game road trip Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics, who should be in considerably better shape after finishing a grueling stretch of schedule.
San Antonio's 92-87 loss to the Clippers on Monday completed a 1-2 homestand. The Spurs fell in heartbreaking fashion on Chris Paul's short jumper 24.7 seconds left, and suffered another loss with an injury to Stephen Jackson.
The veteran incurred a non-displaced fracture to his right pinkie finger and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Jackson, averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds, was starting his second game with fellow forward Kawhi Leonard already sidelined.
Leonard's 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds have been missed for two games, too, as he's dealing with quadriceps tendinitis in his left knee.
The absence of Jackson's gritty style was apparent after he departed in the first quarter, as the Spurs' minus-10 rebounding deficit was tied for their second worst of the season.
"Of all our games, this game was in the soft category," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We never had five guys that competed hard enough to win the basketball game. The Clippers took it with their aggressiveness and their toughness, both mentally and physically. For a portion of that game, we were an embarrassment."
Popovich said the team will likely activate second-year guard Cory Joseph to fill Jackson's spot. Joseph averaged 2.0 points while playing in 29 games last season.
Jackson's absence could put even more weight on the shoulders of Tim Duncan, who's off to a good start with 18.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a game.
Boston (6-4) fell 103-83 on the road to 2-9 Detroit on Sunday, its fourth game in five nights and seventh in 10 days.
The weary Celtics went 4 of 17 from 3-point range and missed 12 of their first 16 shots in the second quarter after leading 25-23 after the first period.
"We can't use the schedule as an excuse - this is the NBA and you have to play stretches like this," forward Kevin Garnett said. "But when you see as many shots hit the front of the rim as we had tonight, you know that you don't have your legs."
Rajon Rondo had 10 assists to extend his streak of games with double-digit assists to 34, the third longest such stretch in NBA history behind John Stockton (37) and Magic Johnson (46).
"I don't really think that much about the streak, but I know that down the road, it will be something that I'm very proud I accomplished," Rondo said.
Rondo, averaging an NBA- and career-high 13.1 assists, recorded the second-highest assist total of his career with 23 against San Antonio in a 105-103 victory Jan. 5, 2011.
Boston has taken seven of the last 10 games in the series, though the Spurs won the only matchup in Boston last season 87-86, with Paul Pierce missing a jumper at the buzzer.
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