Well-rested Spurs host Suns
The San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns will look to get back on the winning track after losses on the road when they square off on Friday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The Spurs head into Friday's matchup on the heels of a 112-106 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday that dropped San Antonio (26-13) to 9-11 on the road.
The Spurs, on a back-to-back after a win in New York on Tuesday, played without five players, including forward Kawhi Leonard, guards Tony Parker, Danny Green, and key reserve Manu Ginobili, all of whom were held out for rest or rehab from injuries.
Even playing short-handed, San Antonio made a game of it, erasing a 16-point Philadelphia lead and moving on top via a 3-pointer from Patty Mills, who led the team with a season-high 26 points, with less than three minutes to play.
But the Sixers made the plays they needed down the stretch and beat San Antonio for first time in 13 meetings.
Philadelphia center Joel Embid was ranked as questionable until he was announced with the starting lineup. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said he talked with Sixers coach Brett Brown (a Popovich protege) for "about 95 minutes before the game and he never mentioned that Embid would play.
"You are who you are -- you don't change your offense or defense for one player," Popovich said. "You just go out and play. I was glad Embid played -- I want to see him just like everyone else.
"We can't turn the ball over like we did and expect to win on the road. Overall too many fouls and too many turnovers."
The Suns head to the Alamo City after losing 134-111 at Denver on Wednesday in what amounted to a back-to-back-games with a travel nightmare in between.
Six players scored in double figures as Devin Booker scored a team-high 17 points. Greg Monroe had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Marquese Chriss added 16 points, Josh Jackson scored 14 and TJ Warren had 13 for Phoenix (15-25).
The Suns scored 41 points in the second quarter and led 67-61 at halftime before going cold with 44 points in the second half.
"We didn't execute as well," Chriss said. "Lacking energy and being at this altitude you need to lock in a little bit more and we didn't play the way we wanted to play."
After beating Atlanta in Phoenix on Tuesday, the Suns waited until 2 a.m. to board their charter jet to Denver. Eventually the team was sent home while mechanical repairs were made to their plane and didn't arrive in Denver until Wednesday afternoon, hours before game time.
"We try not to make no excuses," said Phoenix guard Isaiah Canaan, who had 11 points off the bench. "Obviously, it was a tough travel day. It's part of the game and it's our job. We've got to come out and play no matter what the circumstance is."
Booker is averaging 27.0 points in road games this season, fourth in the NBA behind only James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry. The Suns are 6-4 over their last 10 games, making 10.1 three-pointers per game and shooting 36.3 percent from distance (8.4 makes per game on 32.9 percent shooting in first 30 games this season) during that span.
The Spurs are 2-0 against the Suns this season, winning 112-95 in San Antonio on Nov. 5 and 104-101 in Phoenix on Dec. 9, with Aldridge leading the way in scoring with 21 and 20 points, respectively.
Updated January 4, 2018