The San Antonio Spurs have the best record in franchise history at this point in a season. Coach Gregg Popovich, however, isn't happy with their recent efforts without Kawhi Leonard.
With Leonard potentially out for a fourth straight game, the Spurs will try to tighten things up defensively and continue their domination of the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
San Antonio (47-9) trails only Golden State's 50-5 record for the best in the NBA, and the Spurs have returned from the All-Star break to win two of three. However, they've allowed an average of 109.7 points over that stretch, a far cry from their league-low 92.7 on the season.
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The defensive issues, which were on display in Sunday's 118-111 win at lowly Phoenix, have come without Leonard - the reigning defensive player of the year. He's also the team's top scorer at 20.2 points per game, and the league's top 3-point shooter at 48.2 percent.
"I'm concerned. It's terrible," Popovich said. "We stink on D right now. We'll see if we can get better."
If Leonard is unable to play, Kyle Anderson is expected to start in his place again. Anderson has averaged 9.0 points on 54.2 percent shooting in three games in Leonard's spot.
Tony Parker has helped compensate for Leonard's absence, averaging 20.3 points during that span after scoring 22 against the Suns. Patty Mills is also picking up the slack with 36 points over the last two games, matching his career best with six 3s Sunday.
Parker - unlike Popovich - isn't too worried about the recent defensive woes, which include allowing teams to shoot 48.4 percent from the field and 43.7 from long range.
"We know we're not going to beat everyone by 20 or even win every game," Parker said, "but it's definitely good to go through this experience and learn from it."
The Spurs rarely have problems with the Kings (24-31), winning 34 of the past 38 matchups, including 17 of 19 in Sacramento.
They extended their overall winning streak in the series to four with a 106-88 victory at Sleep Train Arena on Nov. 9.
The Kings have followed a 1-8 stretch with a three-game winning streak, averaging 114.7 points.
DeMarcus Cousins is scoring 34.7 points per game over that stretch, hitting 54.8 percent from the floor. The All-Star poured in 39 points in a 114-110 victory at Denver on Tuesday, sweeping the home-and-home set coming out of the break.
"I'm just playing my game," said Cousins. "That's the best way to put it."
He's also fourth in the league with a career-high 27.3 points per game, and has scored 42.8 on 59.6 shooting in his past four home contests.
Cousins scored 21 against the Spurs in November but missed 15 of 20 from the field. His career 16.6 scoring average against San Antonio is his second-lowest against any opponent after Memphis (15.6).
Rudy Gay was limited to 10 points in that meeting, but he's averaging 20.7 points and made 7 of 14 3-pointers over the last three games. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and three blocks Tuesday.
The Spurs are 4-1 on this stretch of eight straight road games caused by the annual rodeo at AT&T Center.