The San Antonio Spurs open their longest homestand of the season when they host the up-and-down Charlotte Hornets on Monday in the Alamo City.
It’s the first of a nine-game stint at home for the Spurs, who head into the contest off a 120-113 loss at surging Milwaukee on Saturday that ended a five-games-in-seven-days road trip. San Antonio won three of those contests over the past week, beating Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.
Charlotte will be shorthanded due to the loss of rookie guard LaMelo Ball, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a fractured wrist. Ball is getting a second opinion, per reports.
The Hornets announced Sunday that an MRI exam discovered the fracture in Ball’s right wrist, and the team will list the 19-year-old Ball as out indefinitely until further updates were available.
Ball, considered the front-runner for NBA Rookie of the Year, is averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds in 41 games (21 starts) for the Hornets.
As for the Spurs, the grind, and overall excellent play by the Bucks, was ultimately too much for the short-handed Spurs on Saturday, who played without Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills for the first time this season. Both were held out for rest for the second game of a road back-to-back and will be in the lineup on Monday.
San Antonio got a career-high 31 points from Lonnie Walker IV in the loss, with DeMar DeRozan scoring 22 points and distributing a season-best 13 assists. Keldon Johnson had 17, and Rudy Gay scored 15 points for the Spurs, who had a three-game win streak snapped.
Afterward, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said that he liked the fight his team showed given the circumstances, and emphasized that the Spurs still have plenty of room to grow.
“It’s a heck of an interesting and enjoyable group,” Popovich said. “They all come to compete, (and they’re) getting better all the time. I told them after the game they have more room to improve than a lot of teams because they’re still learning an awful lot about what it takes to win games.”
After this homestand, San Antonio will play 17 of 22 games on the road with seven back-to-backs.
The Hornets head to San Antonio after a 125-98 walloping at the hands of the Clippers in Los Angeles. Charlotte absorbed its worst defeat of the season for the second time in three games.
“This season has been a grind,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “We’ve got a young group that’s played a lot of minutes, and they continue to show up every night, keep battling and keep playing.”
Miles Bridges scored a season-high 21 points off the bench for the Hornets and Gordon Hayward added 17, Ball hit for 13 in 22 minutes and Devonte Graham tallied 11 points in the loss, which was Charlotte’s third straight after four consecutive wins.
It’s the first time since Jan. 22 that the Hornets have lost three in a row. Monday’s game is the fourth of a five-game road trip for Charlotte.
“It’s not been our finest basketball these last three games,” Hayward said. “We can be a lot better, that’s for sure. We’ve got to try to pick ourselves up, stay together, stay positive.
“It’s a season of ups and downs, and we’ve been through it already, so there’s no reason to hang our heads. We’ve played three really good teams, and it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Spurs have won three straight games against Charlotte, including a 122-110 victory on the road on Feb. 14 in the two teams’ first meeting of the season. San Antonio has a 44-17 all-time edge over the Hornets.
–Field Level Media