The San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers are both in search of consistency -- especially defensively -- when they square off Sunday evening in an interconference dustup in the Alamo City.
The mood in both camps is dour coming in after losses in games that could have been won if not for poor efforts in their respective final periods.
The 76ers head to San Antonio after a 102-101 loss at home to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday in which Philadelphia squandered a 24-point second-half lead. Joel Embiid racked up 40 points, 13 rebounds in defeat, with Tobias Harris scoring 20 points and Tyrese Maxey adding 19 for the 76ers, who lost for just the third time since Dec. 26.
Those three losses have come in the past six contests following a seven-game winning streak.
"Honestly, we just blew this one," Harris said. "And we all know that in the locker room. We have to be better for the next game and learn from it."
Philadelphia was outscored 32-21 in the fourth quarter and used only eight players in the game because of injuries and COVID.
"No one is ever going to point a finger at anybody," said Embiid, who has scored 90 points combined in his past two games. "That's how you keep everybody together, and that's how we're gonna get better results. We got to be better prepared. We've got to know our assignments. We just got to be focused."
After Sunday, the 76ers play five straight at home.
The Spurs continue their seven-game homestand after a 117-102 loss to Brooklyn on Friday in which Dejounte Murray produced his second consecutive triple-double. Murray has nine triple-doubles this season and is tied with Russell Westbrook of the Lakers for second in the NBA behind Nikola Jokic of Denver (10).
Murray now has 13 career triple-doubles, one short of the franchise record set by David Robinson.
But not even Murray's 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists could help San Antonio enough to offset its woeful shooting from the floor (38.9 percent) and abysmal showing from beyond the arc (8 of 29). The Spurs missed 34 shots in the paint and were outscored by 16 points in the game's final 14 minutes after leading deep into the third quarter.
"We missed 34 chippies, and we got to keep scoring against (Brooklyn)," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "That's an inordinate number of misses in the paint -- that's pretty tough to do. If you combine that with 27 percent from three, you're going to have a problem. We needed to keep scoring, and we weren't able to. The effort was great."
Derrick White scored 17 points for San Antonio, with Jakob Poeltl recording 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Keldon Johnson adding 14 points.
"It was one of those nights," Murray said. "If we were able to finish in the paint and even make half of those threes, you've got a game, because we were going back and forth."
--Field Level Media