The San Antonio Spurs will head out on their lengthy annual rodeo trip without three key players but are hoping to use the end of their season-high losing streak as some momentum.
The Spurs will try to earn another victory to start their nine-game trek Monday night against the banged-up New Orleans Pelicans, who have won five of seven despite their injuries.
San Antonio (34-13) is without star reserve Manu Ginobili for at least three weeks because of a strained left hamstring. Starting forward Kawhi Leonard (fractured hand) is also not expected to return until later this month, and guard Danny Green (fractured hand) is likely out until at least the middle of February.
The Spurs were without those two starters and another, Tiago Splitter, during their recent three-game skid. Ginobili sat out the final defeat in that stretch Wednesday against Chicago.
San Antonio got Splitter back Saturday after a 12-game absence due to sprained right shoulder, but he provided only two points and four rebounds in a 95-93 win over Sacramento on Saturday. Tony Parker scored six of his 18 points in the final 2:20, and Tim Duncan had a team-best 23 while helping the Spurs rally from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter.
"It's huge to start the road trip like that," Parker said. "We needed a win. Obviously, we were in a little slump with those three losses. We wanted to get back on the right track."
San Antonio will try to keep heading in the right direction as it faces a New Orleans club missing three starters: Ryan Anderson (back), Jrue Holiday (fractured tibia), Jason Smith (knee).
The Pelicans (20-26) also didn't have leading scorer Anthony Davis available for an 88-77 loss in Minnesota on Wednesday but got him back in an 88-79 win over Chicago on Saturday. Davis had 24 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in his return from an injured finger and the opener to a four-game homestand.
Davis has set a franchise record with four or more blocks in six straight games, totaling 33 during that run. He also has at least 22 points and six blocks in his last three, becoming the first NBA player to accomplish that feat since New York's Patrick Ewing had a four-game streak Nov. 2-8, 1990.
"I'm just trying to protect the rim. My teammates are doing a great job of not fouling while guys are driving to the basket, so I'm there to clean it up," Davis said. "So they are doing a great job of that, and I'm glad I could continue the streak."
Davis has scored 22 points just once in six career games against San Antonio, during a 101-95 home loss Jan. 13. He had two blocks in that game while Parker scored 27 in the Spurs' ninth win in the last 10 matchups with the Pelicans.
Davis has also recorded more than three blocks against San Antonio just once. He had four in a 112-93 road loss Nov. 25 along with one of his lowest scoring performances of the season (10 points).
Davis is averaging 20.0 points in three career home games against the Spurs, and Parker is averaging 21.5 points on 56.8 percent shooting in his last six matchups with New Orleans.
San Antonio has also won seven of its last nine in New Orleans.
The Associated Press News Service
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