A promising start to the month has turned sour for a usually dominant San Antonio Spurs club.
The Spurs began December with five wins in a row but have lost two straight and four of the previous five contests. They will try to break their funk versus the moribund New Orleans Hornets Friday night in the opener of a four- game homestand at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio's losing way continued with a 112-106 setback at Denver on Tuesday as Tim Duncan recorded 31 points, 18 rebounds and six assists. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 16 and 13 points, respectively, in defeat. The Spurs outscored the Nuggets, 31-22, in the fourth quarter before falling off.
"We didn't give up," said Duncan, who posted five blocks and two steals and eclipsed the 23,000-point mark. "We were attacking but just didn't make enough plays."
Patty Mills made five 3-pointers for 15 points off the bench and the Spurs knocked down 14-of-36 from beyond the arc. The Spurs' bench ranks third in the NBA in scoring (41.5) and first in assists (11.2).
The Spurs, currently third in the NBA with 104.4 ppg, have won four straight in the Alamo City, are 8-2 as the host and haven't lost at home since Nov. 19 versus the Los Angeles Clippers. They will also host Dallas, Toronto and Houston on the residency.
Parker has stepped up his play despite his team's struggles and is the only player in the league averaging at least 18.0 points and 7.0 assists while shooting over 50.0 percent. In 10 games this month, Parker has averages of 21.0 points and 7.5 assists.
On the injury front for San Antonio, forward Kawhi Leonard is probable for Friday's game with right knee tendinitis. Leonard hasn't played since Nov. 15 in a 104-100 home loss to the New York Knicks and is averaging 10.6 ppg.
New Orleans hopes to put an end to its nine-game losing streak Friday and will close out a four-game road trip.
The Hornets' woes continued with Wednesday's 93-77 loss against former franchise player Chris Paul and the Clippers. Robin Lopez delivered 22 points and nine rebounds to no avail. Paul had 10 points and 12 assists.
"We came out in the third quarter with more juice, we just weren't able to sustain it," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We just didn't make shots tonight."
Hornets top draft pick Anthony Davis finished with 16 points and Greivis Vasquez deposited five points, five rebounds and 10 assists for the Hornets, who shot 38.7 percent for the game and suffered their fifth straight road loss. New Orleans is just 2-10 away from the Big Easy.
Ryan Anderson, who leads the team with 18.5 ppg, was held to seven in L.A.
New Orleans, owners of a lowly 2-14 mark in conference action, will return to the bayou for a showdown with Indiana Saturday night.
The Hornets and Spurs have met once already this season, with the latter posting a 99-95 win at New Orleans Arena. San Antonio has won five in a row, 12 of 14 and 22 of the last 28 matchups between the teams.