Sputtering Spurs set to battle new-look Bulls at home

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The San Antonio Spurs look to get back to their winning ways and finally take advantage of their home court when they host the new-look Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

The Spurs have lost four straight games, including the first three of a franchise-high nine game homestand. The two most recent losses were to the Los Angeles Clippers on back-to-back nights, with Thursday’s 98-85 setback even more difficult to swallow because the Clippers prevailed without four key players.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 23 points, with Dejounte Murray adding 18 and Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl hitting for 11 points each. San Antonio was outrebounded 57-39, including a 14-2 edge on the offensive glass, and lost despite holding Los Angeles to just 38.2-percent shooting from the floor.

The Spurs just ran out of gas, scoring a season-low 13 points in the third quarter and only 30 points in the second half.

“We’re not shooting well, and we’ve started to turn it over a little bit, which kind of exacerbates the situation,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Thursday’s loss. “Overall, too many mental errors here and there. It could be a defensive error, could be an execution error on offense. We’ve just gotta stick together and just keep pushing, keep getting better.”

Three of the past four losses for San Antonio have come against Milwaukee and the Clippers, two of the league’s upper-echelon teams. Now comes Chicago, a squad the Spurs beat 106-99 on the road on March 17. If San Antonio is going to turn around this homestand, the time is now.

The Bulls head to the Alamo City on the heels of a 103-94 loss at home to Cleveland on Wednesday. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 22 points in the loss but had just four of those in the second half. Lauri Markkanen added 17, with Tomas Satoransky and Coby White scoring 11 each.

“I don’t think it was good game for anybody offensively,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said. “We didn’t have any flow. We didn’t play with any pace.”

Chicago, which has dropped four of its past five games, begins a four-game road trip that continues with stops in San Francisco, Phoenix and Salt Lake City after San Antonio.

Overall, nine of the Bulls’ next 10 games are on the road. Chicago, which hasn’t defeated a team with a winning record since the beginning of January, will face teams over .500 in its five of its next six games.

Chicago’s lackluster performance on Wednesday might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Bulls made some serious changes at Thursday’s trade deadline, acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu from Orlando while sending Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks (2021 and 2023) to the Magic.

Chicago was also a participant in a three-team trade with Washington and Boston that netted the Bulls center Daniel Theis, guard Javonte Green and forward Troy Brown Jr.

How many of those players will be available for Saturday’s game with the Spurs remains to be determined. All players involved in the trades have to pass physical examinations with their new teams, a process that’s been slow this season because of COVID-19 precautions.

–Field Level Media

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