Spurs vs Pacers Preview 2/9/15
By ALAN FERGUSON
The San Antonio Spurs fell short in their first attempt to get coach Gregg Popovich his 1,000th win but would appear to have a better chance against the Indiana Pacers.
The Spurs will try to make a 14th victory in the last 15 games against Indiana an extremely memorable one Monday night while ending the Pacers' season-high win streak.
San Antonio (32-19) held an 82-79 lead late Sunday at Toronto, but the Atlantic Division leaders scored the final eight points in an 87-82 win. The Spurs, winners in nine of their previous 11, missed their final three shots and finished at 33.3 percent for their worst performance in four seasons.
"Sometimes, you don't shoot well. That's the way it is," Popovich said. "I thought we made a lot of bad decisions in execution. That really hurt us, but both teams defended pretty well."
Popovich is attempting to become the ninth coach to reach 1,000 wins, the third-fastest (1,462 games counting Monday's) and the second to accomplish that feat with one team. Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was the other.
Phil Jackson reached 1,000 wins in 1,423 games and Pat Riley got there in 1,434. Popovich, who turned 66 on Jan. 28, is 999-462 in his 19th season and has the longest current tenure with one team in the four major sports.
"We're not trying to win for one person or another. We're trying to better our team and end strong (before the All-Star break)," said forward Tim Duncan, who went a season-worst 3 of 14 from the floor Sunday.
Duncan had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting against visiting Indiana on Nov. 26 but was San Antonio's fourth-best scorer in a 106-100 victory. Manu Ginobili had a season-high 28 points while Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker each had 21.
Popovich missed that game after undergoing an undisclosed minor medical procedure. Italian native Ettore Messina became the first European-born coach to pilot an NBA team in the regular season but the victory was added to Popovich's total.
Indiana (20-32) was in the midst of a 6-3 stretch when it played that game and has also been relatively successful of late, winning five of seven. The Pacers used George Hill's late heroics for their first three-game win streak in 11 months Sunday.
Hill made a baseline floater with 4.9 seconds remaining in a 103-102 victory at Charlotte as Indiana rallied from 21 down in the third quarter. C.J. Watson provided 22 points, one shy of matching a season high, after being held scoreless in a 103-99 victory over Cleveland on Friday.
"It's a big confidence boost for us. It's been a big struggle for us all season long," Hill said.
Indiana has dropped its last six home games against San Antonio and was blown out 103-77 in the latest one March 31, part of the Spurs' franchise-record 19-game win streak that ended April 3. Parker had a team-high 22 points and is averaging 22.3 in his last four matchups while shooting 54.9 percent.
Indiana's Rodney Stuckey is averaging 19.7 in his last three meetings with the Spurs. He had 15 Sunday after averaging 4.0 points on 35.3 percent shooting in his previous three games.