The San Antonio Spurs’ eight-game road trip got off to a rough start.
The Spurs started the trip with a five-game losing streak, but they have picked themselves off the mat with back-to-back victories entering Sunday’s finale of the long trip necessitated by a long-standing rodeo.
“It’s not over. It’s far from over,” Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan said after Friday’s win at Utah.
The Spurs finally head home after Sunday’s game at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The losing streak had put San Antonio in a difficult spot as it fights for a 23rd consecutive playoff berth.
San Antonio’s fortunes started turning around just before the All-Star break when the Spurs hit all eight of their field goals in the final 40.8 seconds to beat the Thunder 114-106 on Feb. 11.
DeRozan missed that game, the second of two he missed with an ankle injury.
“We can’t worry about nobody else but us,” DeRozan said. “We won tonight and took care of business. If we take care of business the next game, the next game, the next game, when it’s all said and done, we’ll see what happens.”
Sunday’s game is the last meeting of the season between the teams. The Spurs have won two of the three games so far.
While DeRozan missed the last meeting, LaMarcus Aldridge came up big. He scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the victory over the Thunder.
Aldridge figures to be a big focus of Oklahoma City’s defensive game plan Sunday.
“Just to bother him,” Thunder center Nerlens Noel said of the defensive goal when facing Aldridge. “There’s some exceptional post players in the league, and he’s one of them.
“He makes tough shots. But I’ve got a different mindset than last game.”
Dejounte Murray was also a big part of that win over the Thunder, also scoring 25 points with nine rebounds.
Murray is shooting 60 percent from the field and averaging 19.8 points per game over the last four games.
“When you play with freedom, it brings the best out of you because it builds confidence,” Murray said.
The Thunder have won two consecutive games, including Friday’s win over Denver, and 11 of their last 14.
After this game, Oklahoma City will play 13 of its next 20 on the road.
After injuring his ankle about midway through the third quarter of Friday’s game, Thunder reserve point guard Dennis Schroder participated in Saturday’s light practice but there wasn’t much running involved.
“I think once we do some stuff tomorrow at the arena, we’ll have a better idea of where he’s at,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said.
While Schroder comes off the bench, he’s been a very important piece at the end of tight games in the Thunder’s three point-guard lineup with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Schroder together on the floor at once.
“It wouldn’t have worked if those guys didn’t have the attitude, mentality they had towards it,” Donovan said.
–Field Level Media