Gameday Preview: Spurs vs. Kings - 2/1/14
With a slew of major holes in their lineup, the San Antonio Spurs are on the verge of their longest losing streak in nearly three years.
It'll take a rare loss against the Sacramento Kings to get them there.
The short-handed Spurs look to end a three-game skid Saturday night when they host the Kings in their final contest before a daunting nine games on their annual rodeo road trip.
San Antonio (33-13), which has beaten Sacramento in seven straight and 19 of the last 20 meetings, hasn't lost at least four straight in the regular season since dropping six in a row from March 23-April 1, 2011.
Among the key injuries is star reserve Manu Ginobili, who sat out with a strained left hamstring Wednesday against Chicago and will be sidelined at least three more weeks.
The Spurs' other missing pieces are three regular starters: Danny Green (broken finger), Kawhi Leonard (broken left hand) and Tiago Splitter (sprained right shoulder).
"It doesn't matter who's hurt, or what your schedule is, or anything like that," coach Gregg Popovich said after a 96-86 home loss to the Bulls. "You go play. Nobody cares. All that matters is the win or the loss. We lost our defensive consistency and they went up."
Splitter is the only one said to be nearing a return in the coming days.
Sacramento (15-31) has lost six consecutive games and is also unlikely to get much healthier after opening its two-game Texas swing Friday with a 107-103 defeat in Dallas.
All-Star snub DeMarcus Cousins didn't play against the Mavericks, and though he hasn't been ruled out Saturday after missing five games with a sprained left ankle, coach Michael Malone referred to him as doubtful.
The Kings haven't won since the game before Cousins was hurt on Jan. 22, matching their worst stretch of the season. They haven't dropped seven straight since April 2012 and have allowed 112.0 points per game during the losing streak.
Rudy Gay, in his second game back from an Achilles injury, had game-highs with 35 points and 12 rebounds against Dallas. Sacramento blew a 14-point third-quarter lead and turned it over 15 times to the Mavs' four.
"We have to learn how to be a winning team," Gay said. "We just have to play a whole solid game. That's what we need to do for us to get off that slide we're on right now."
The Spurs have scored 92.3 points per game during their skid - 11.7 fewer than their season average. Their field-goal percentage has also dipped, most notably from 3-point range. They're hitting a league-best 40.2 percent on the season but are down to 29.3 in the last three games. Tony Parker scored 20 points, and Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Bulls. Guard Nando De Colo, making his first start of the season, was the only other starter to score with eight points.
"It's tough to keep a rhythm," Duncan said. "With a lot of our guys out, our consistency just isn't there on both ends. We can't sustain for the periods of time that we need to. But at various points throughout the game we're where we want to be. And then we go through lulls where defense or offense can't get it done."
The Spurs beat the Kings 112-104 on Dec. 29 in San Antonio. Both teams will need to look elsewhere for a top scorer after Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds in that one, while Ginobili led the Spurs with 28 points.
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