Spurs looking for answers as they host searing Suns

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The San Antonio Spurs are off to one of their worst showings in club history and will be looking for answers when they head home for a four-game homestand, beginning with the Phoenix Suns on Monday in the Alamo City.

The Suns, meanwhile, are as hot as the desert, carrying an NBA-best 12-game winning streak into Monday’s dustup.

The Spurs, a bastion of success and consistency for most of the past 25 years, are 4-11 after losing five of their last six games; it’s the second-worst start in club history. Only the 1996-97 squad started worse, going 2-13. That was when Gregg Popovich took over as San Antonio’s coach, and he’s still at the helm.

The Spurs have fallen to 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference and return home after recording season lows in scoring in back-to-back games, managing just 92 in a loss at the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday and then even fewer Thursday in a 115-90 defeat in Minnesota.

“We are going to stick together, and I believe we will get it,” San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray said after the loss Thursday. “A lot of guys are frustrated and mad. The shots will fall (eventually), but focus on the defensive end.”

The Spurs have lost four straight games after a 0-3 road trip that ended in Minnesota, tying their longest skid of the season. Devin Vassell scored 18 points for San Antonio, with Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson hitting for 12 each.

The 25-point losing margin was San Antonio’s worst loss of the season as the Spurs scored just 12 points in the fourth quarter, a season low for any period this year, and had their worst 3-point shooting night of the campaign (6 of 32, 18.8 percent, including 2 of 17 in the second half).

“That’s a bad night,” Popovich said. “We didn’t really have anybody who had a good game. If that happens, this will be the outcome. We’ll go home, retool and see what we can do.”

There’s not a lot to build on with the Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards coming to town over the next eight days. Center Jakob Poeltl is back for the Spurs after missing seven games with COVID-19, but his minutes were limited and will continue to be as he gets back into form.

The Suns head to San Antonio for the second game of a home-road back-to-back after a 126-97 win against Denver on Sunday. This is Phoenix’s longest winning streak since racking up a franchise-best 17 during the 2006-07 season.

Cameron Johnson led the way with a career-high 22 points Sunday, while Deandre Ayton had 21, Devin Booker scored 17, Jae Crowder added 15 and JaVale McGee and Cameron Payne hit for 10 apiece. Chris Paul added 10 assists in 24 minutes.

“It was good to see Cam (Johnson) knocking down shots, and it was good that the guys were looking for him,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said.

The Suns jumped on Denver for 48 points in the first quarter. Phoenix shot 77 percent and had 16 assists on 17 baskets in the period, after which it led by 20 points. Denver never got closer than nine points.

The Suns have four games over the next six days, playing in San Antonio on Monday before traveling to Cleveland on Wednesday, then heading to New York for a back-to-back Friday vs. the Knicks and Saturday against the Nets.

“Our guys are just focused on the next game,” Williams said. “We haven’t talked about the schedule. Why focus on what you can’t change? I feel like my job, and our job as a staff, is to get our guys the rest they need physically and emotionally so they can be ready. So it is what it is.”

–Field Level Media

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