Suns stay south of border to face Spurs in Mexico City

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Two nights after watching the two bottom teams in the Western Conference battle it out, Mexican basketball fans will get treated to one of the NBA's best -- the San Antonio Spurs -- when the Phoenix Suns "host" a second game in the nation's capital on Saturday night.

Nearly 20,000 people packed the Mexico City Arena on Thursday night to watch the Suns fall to the Dallas Mavericks 113-108 despite a crowd-pleasing, 39-point performance by guard Devin Booker.

The 20-year-old poured in 29 points in a furious Suns rally in the fourth quarter that excited the crowd but nonetheless fell short.

The Suns will get an opportunity to earn a split in their two games south of the border Saturday, but the competition will be a lot stiffer.

Instead of playing a team with which it shares the worst record in the West (12-27), the Suns must deal with the 31-8 Spurs, who are coming off a 134-94 shellacking of the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Both the point total and margin of victory were season highs for the Spurs, who had lost at home to Milwaukee on Tuesday and were looking for redemption against the Lakers.

"You always want to handle a loss by bouncing back the next night," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. "Our ball movement was great and everybody, both the first and second team, really were great tonight. I thought we had a good performance."

San Antonio has had many of them against Phoenix in recent meetings. The Spurs have beaten the Suns nine times in a row by an average score of 109-90.

The Suns have scored 100 or more points against San Antonio in just one of their last 10 meetings.

Booker left the Mexico City Arena on Thursday night not concerned about the next opponent. Regardless of who the Suns play, he insisted, the goal is win now because in a wide-open Western playoff race, spots remain within reach.

"We are at the point of the season where it's make or break," Booker claimed to reporters after the Dallas game. "Every game counts at this point of the season and we need to get wins. We have a coach who trusts and believes in us."

The second-year star is one of the best things going right now in the NBA. He has scored 20 or more points in four straight games, averaging 29.0 points on 55.0 percent shooting from the field and 60.9 percent accuracy from 3-point range during that impressive stretch.

Center Tyson Chandler is another Suns players on a bit of a roll. He has back-to-back double-doubles, including a 14-point, 19-rebound effort in the Mexico City curtain-raiser.

The Spurs, who have scored 100 or more points in 16 straight games, their longest streak since 1995, are led by Kawhi Leonard, who has scored in double figures in 71 straight games.

The San Antonio record is 75, set by Tim Duncan.

The Spurs already have wins over the Suns at Phoenix (107-92) and San Antonio (119-98) this season. The Mexico City matchup completes the season series.