The San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls have continued their recent surges with emotional victories over the two-time defending NBA champions in the last week.
The Spurs, whose home loss to the Bulls in late January capped their worst stretch of the season, go for their seventh straight win and 14th in 17 games since that defeat when they visit Chicago on Tuesday night.
San Antonio (46-16) rolled to a 111-87 win at home against Miami on Thursday in an NBA finals rematch before Chicago (35-28) held off the Heat 95-88 in overtime Sunday to put them on the verge of losing four straight for the first time in three years.
The win for the Spurs avenged a 113-101 loss in Miami on Jan. 26 that began a three-game slide which closed with a 96-86 defeat to the Bulls three days later - the only time this season San Antonio has dropped consecutive contests. It also ended a stretch of five losses in seven games, including against Portland, Oklahoma City and Houston.
The Spurs have been on an offensive tear since Chicago limited them to their third-lowest point total of the season, averaging 106.6 over the ensuing 16 games to overcome the 101.6 they've allowed.
San Antonio nearly had a letdown after beating Miami before holding off lowly Orlando for a 121-112 victory Saturday. Tony Parker scored 30 points, Manu Ginobili added 24 and Kawhi Leonard had 17 along with two key steals down the stretch.
"It's always hard after a big win against Miami, the emotions," Parker said. "We wanted to make sure we didn't come out flat, and Orlando, they came out firing. They were shooting the ball very well from outside. They are young and they wanted to prove something. They made it hard on us but it's a big win for us."
Tim Duncan added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who continue to jockey with the Thunder and Indiana for the league's best record.
San Antonio heated up after losing to the Bulls despite its annual rodeo road trip. The Spurs' three losses since falling to Chicago all came on that season-high nine-game swing.
They'll now try to win a second straight game in Chicago for the first time since January 2009 after winning 103-89 on their last visit Feb. 11, 2013.
The Bulls, however, have won six of their last seven at home after beating Miami for their 11th win in the last 14 games overall. Joakim Noah had 20 points and 12 rebounds, D.J. Augustin scored 22 and Jimmy Butler forced a key turnover by LeBron James at the end of regulation to ensure overtime.
"I want what they have - a championship," Noah said of the Heat. "One day, we're going to have to get through those guys."
Noah also had seven assists and five blocks with his dad - tennis great Yannick Noah - looking on, and Butler added 16 points and 11 rebounds while helping to contain James, who was 8 of 23 from the field and finished with 17 points.
The victory improved Chicago to 1-1 on a challenging six-game homestand that opened with a loss to Memphis and also features games against the Rockets and Thunder.
Parker had 20 points and Duncan added 17 for the Spurs in the first meeting this season, but the Bulls had seven players score in double figures and forced 19 turnovers to win for the fifth time over the last eight in the series.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved