Spurs looking for less bumpy road
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The road has not been kind to the San Antonio Spurs of late, where they have suffered a rash of losses.
The Spurs are producing an uncharacteristic showing in road games with a 10-14 record heading into Wednesday's visit to the Brooklyn Nets, whom they rarely lose to.
Getting road wins have been more difficult this season for the Spurs (29-16), who rarely have played with a complete lineup. San Antonio went 4-5 on the road until Tony Parker made his season debut Nov. 27, and split their first 12 road games until Kawhi Leonard returned Dec. 12 at Dallas.
Leonard's return occurred in a 95-89 loss and it is among six road losses to teams with losing records for the Spurs, who head into Brooklyn following a 102-99 loss at Atlanta in a game that occurred three days after a 93-81 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Leonard did not play in either game as the team tries to manage his shoulder injury. Leonard missed three games before scoring 19 points in Saturday's 32-point win over Denver but was rested Monday when the Spurs blew a 14-point lead.
If Leonard plays Wednesday, his minutes will continue to be managed. The most Leonard has played so far was 30:32 on Jan. 2, when he scored 25 points on 8-of- 20 shooting in a nine-point road win over the New York Knicks.
Leonard's second-most productive showing was a 21-point outing in 26:06 on Dec. 26 during a 12-point home win over the Nets when the Spurs improved to 26-3 in the last 29 meetings.
"We need him to get as close to the way he felt last year as possible," Manu Ginobili told reporters recently. "He's a very important player for our team. We played (27) games without him. The adjustment is not that easy."
Ginobili might miss Wednesday's game because of a thigh contusion. He was injured when he ran into a screen set by Atlanta center Dewayne Dedmon in the first quarter.
"He got a good lick," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think he's going to be pretty tight for a while."
One person playing is LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds on Monday. He leads the Spurs with 18 double-doubles and has 15 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds after getting only three last season.
After Aldridge's big game was not enough to prevent the Spurs from losing for the fifth time in seven games, they are averaging 96.4 points on the road. Only four teams are averaging less than 100 points on the road and only the Sacramento Kings (96.0) average fewer.
The Spurs also shoot 43.8 percent in road games, which is the third-worst in the league and their 3-point percentage of 33.9 in road contests is the worst.
Despite the struggles on offense in road games, the Spurs are allowing 98.3 points in those games, second to only Boston's 96.9 points in 21 road games.
Brooklyn enters with a 9-14 home record and is allowing 107.4 points in those games, which is among the worst in the league.
The Nets (16-28) won three of four games from Dec. 29-Jan. 3, but has dropped five of its last six starting with an 87-85 loss to Boston on Jan. 6.
In those games, the Nets are averaging 100.8 points, shooting 39.0 percent (31.4 percent on 3-pointers) while posting a 95.0 offensive rating. Defensively the Nets are allowing 106 points on 46.3 percent shooting to go along with a 104.6 defensive rating.
The Nets are coming off a 119-104 loss to the Knicks, where they fell behind for good late in the third quarter. The Nets shot 36.8 percent and allowed the Knicks to shoot 51.2 percent.
Monday marked the 15th time the Nets allowed at least 115 points and they are 1-14 in those games. The Nets are also 1-14 when allowing at least 50 percent from the floor and 0-6 when shooting less than 40 percent.
Despite those things occurring Monday, the Nets still had a chance to win. They were within two after DeMarre Carroll beat the buzzer to end the third quarter, but promptly gave up a 26-7 run to start the fourth.
"We fought back, didn't play very well, but that was the knockout punch," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "They took us out in the beginning of that fourth and dominated us the rest of the quarter."
Carroll scored 22 points and LeVert finished with 20, but Spencer Dinwiddie shot 2 of 14. Since getting a career-high 31 points in an overtime loss to Toronto on Jan. 8, he is shooting 26 percent (13-of-50) over his last four games.
Updated January 16, 2018