After picking up their first victory on their nine-game road trip in dramatic fashion, the San Antonio Spurs hope for an easier time against their next opponent.
The league-leading Spurs look to win their 10th straight over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night when they begin an easier stretch in their schedule.
San Antonio (41-8) opened its longest road trip of the season with a 99-86 loss to Portland on Tuesday, but bounced back with an 89-88 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
After failing to protect a four-point lead in the final two minutes, Antonio McDyess tipped in Tim Duncan's missed jump shot at the buzzer.
"I was in the right place at the right time, and it bounced right to me,' said McDyess, who eluded Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant for the winning tip. "I haven't had too many (buzzer-beaters). I can probably count them on one hand, but this is a big one.'
McDyess finished with eight rebounds, including six offensive, while Tony Parker scored 21 points and Manu Ginobili had 14 points and eight assists.
The Spurs, winners of 12 of 14, have struggled offensively the first two games of the trip, shooting 42.7 percent against Portland and 41.2 percent against the Lakers. However, they held one of the league's best shooting teams to 42.5 percent from the field.
Defense on the road had been one issue San Antonio was looking to improve on during this trip. Before Thursday, the team had split its previous four road games with opponents averaging 100.5 points while shooting 49.4 percent. The Blazers shot 50.7 percent Tuesday.
The Spurs have a chance to further work on their defense during the next few weeks as their schedule on this road trip lightens considerably. Their next six opponents all own losing records.
San Antonio will try to avoid a letdown against Sacramento (12-34), a team the Spurs haven't lost since Nov. 26, 2007.
While the Kings have the Western Conference's second-worst record, they have given some of the NBA's elite trouble recently. After wins over the Lakers and New Orleans, they suffered a 95-90 loss to Boston on Tuesday.
"We've proven we can play against these good teams and beat them," Omri Casspi told the Kings' official website. "We have a lot of good energy, and we need to keep it up. ... We have a big game (Friday), and it's a good time to show it."
In the second game of a six-game homestand, Sacramento led Boston 54-45 at the end of the first half, but was outscored 29-17 in the third quarter. DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans finished with 20 points apiece.
Cousins seems to be thriving against the tougher competition. The rookie has averaged 24 points and shot 52.7 percent the last three games.
Sacramento has lost 20 of the last 23 games against San Antonio and five straight at Arco Arena.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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