The Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs will look to get back on the winning track when they square off on Saturday but there will be a different level of desperation for the teams.
The Suns are trying to hold on until they get everyone healthy while San Antonio is looking for a way, any way in fact, to find the win column in a season that's been a struggle.
The Suns travel to San Antonio after a 99-95 loss at home to short-handed Dallas on Thursday that snapped a four-game winning streak. Cam Johnson and Chris Paul led Phoenix with 22 points each, with Deandre Ayton racking up 19 points and 20 rebounds after missing the last three games with a non-COVID illness.
Mikal Bridges scored 16 points and Paul amassed 10 assists in the loss. Phoenix trailed by nine points with 3:34 remaining and cut its deficit to 96-95 on Paul's layup with 19 seconds remaining but couldn't get over the hump.
"Look, we didn't win the game," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "It was a tough night for everybody across the board. By and large, we did not play to the best of our ability tonight, especially when I started to make subs. That was a dip in our focus and energy tonight and that can't happen."
The Suns played without injured guards Devin Booker (groin), Cameron Payne (foot) and Landry Shamet (foot). Thirteen players saw the court for Phoenix, including backup center Jock Landale, who was originally listed as a DNP (coach's decision) at the start of the game.
"I thought we were a bit happy on the farm to be honest with you," Williams said. "We did not bring the same juice, energy and focus we had been bringing."
The Spurs head back to the Alamo City for a four-game homestand after a 138-100 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Thursday. The setback came on the back end of a road back-to-back and extended San Antonio's losing streak to four games.
Keldon Johnson hit for 19 points while Isaiah Roby had a career-high 14, Keita Bates-Diop scored 13, Doug McDermott added 11 and Jakob Poeltl tallied 10 for the Spurs. San Antonio never led, was down by 21 points in a first half in which it allowed the Clippers to score a season-high 78 points and stumbled to the finish line.
"We played hard. We got our butts kicked," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. "Hopefully we learned some things game after game. We'll go home and start up again."
San Antonio, which played without starter Jeremy Sochan (left quad contusion) and key reserves Josh Richardson (left knee tightness) and Romeo Langford (injured hip), has dropped nine of its past 10 games.
The Spurs have won just twice in their 13 contests in January and have lost 10 straight road games, marking the fifth time in franchise history that they've reached that dubious mark.
"We are a very young team and we are trying to play the right way and grow," Spurs reserve center Zack Collins said. "That's the good thing about it. We have a good core group of guys very far away from their primes. We have a lot of time to learn."
--Field Level Media