Mired in their longest losing streak of the season, the San Antonio Spurs look to get back on track Saturday night versus the Boston Celtics at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs dropped the last two installments of their four-game road trip, dropping decisions to Utah and Portland. They had a five-game winning streak stopped in a loss to the Jazz on Wednesday, then sustained a 98-90 setback the following night against the Trail Blazers.
Blazers rookie Damian Lillard stole the show with 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Tony Parker tallied 21 points and five assists for San Antonio, which is riding its longest losing streak since a two-game slide last April 9-11. The last time the Spurs lost three in a row was during a six-game losing streak from March 23-April 1, 2011.
"We just couldn't find any rhythm," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who recorded 16 points and six rebounds. "Give credit to (the Blazers). They made shots when they needed to and kept us at bay."
San Antonio committed 19 turnovers, which led to 17 Portland points. Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter finished with 12 points apiece in defeat.
The Spurs have won three in a row in the Alamo City and own a 7-2 record as the host this season. They are averaging 107.7 ppg during the current home winning streak.
Boston lost what turned out to be an emotional game to the Houston Rockets, 101-89 on Friday night.
The Rockets won the final quarter by seven points and pulled away a bit for the easy win.
Paul Pierce paced the Celtics with 18 points, while Kevin Garnett (14), Jason Terry (12) and Rajon Rondo (15) contributed. Rondo also dished out 13 assists on Friday night.
It was a rough Friday for the Celtics. Boston was close geographically to Connecticut, where the horrifying school tragedy took place on Friday.
"I just want to say my condolences go out to all the families in Connecticut. Anybody that has kids, a niece, any kind of siblings, someone that they love, it's just been a tough day," Garnett said postgame. "I just wanted to get it off my chest and say my condolences go out to all the parents out there."
And there was also the Kevin McHale factor.
McHale is a Celtics legend and Hall of Famer. He drafted Garnett with the fifth pick in the 1995 NBA Draft, when McHale was general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This was the first time the Celtics saw McHale since he endured the heartbreak of his own when his 23-year-old daughter Alexandre "Sasha" McHale died of complications of lupus on Nov. 24.
After the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers walked up and gave McHale a hug. Garnett followed and the two shared a long embrace and when it was over, McHale was teary-eyed.
"I seen Kevin and kind of had an emotional moment with him, so it's been an emotional roller coaster today," admitted Garnett.
Boston dropped a 112-100 home decision to the Spurs on Nov. 21 as Duncan led the way with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Rondo totaled 22 points and 15 assists in that one for the Celtics, who have lost 22 of the last 29 in this series.
The Celtics, though, have won five straight in San Antonio after losing their last 15 trips to the Alamo City.