The San Antonio Spurs begin their annual rodeo road trip Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers, their first of eight straight games away from the Alamo City.
Each year, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo takes up residence in the Spurs’ home arena for more than two weeks, forcing the Spurs on an extended trip. Before departing, San Antonio rallied from a 19-point, third-quarter deficit to defeat the Charlotte Hornets 114-90 on Saturday.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting for the Spurs, who held the Hornets to just 27 points in the second half. The Spurs also got a lift from reserve center Jakob Poeltl, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.
“It’s big, especially with that second half that we had,” Poeltl said. “It really got us going. I hope we can carry that over into our road trip. The spirits are high right now. We really got to try and ride that wave and keep it going.”
A wave of consistency would improve the Spurs, who are 5-5 in their last 10 games and four games under .500. They’ve won their last two after enduring a three-game skid.
The return of forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the previous two games with a sprained right thumb, should help. Aldridge looked a little rusty against the Hornets, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds in 28 minutes.
Spurs guard Dejounte Murray said the team needs contributions from everyone to kick-start a solid run.
“You got a lot of guys who ain’t been a part of the rodeo (trip), so it’s about to get real, game after game,” said Murray, who had nine points with 10 rebounds and four steals against Charlotte. “We just got to go out, play together, have fun and like I said, (have a) I-got-your-back, you-got-my-back mentality.”
The Clippers fielded a healthy squad for one of the rare times this season in a 118-106 win over the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. Kawhi Leonard returned from a one-game absence because of lower back tightness and scored 31 points in 24 minutes.
Paul George, playing for the second time after missing nine games with a left hamstring strain, scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half to help the Clippers pull away. Lou Williams added 17 points and six assists.
“It was good to see him make shots and get the crowd going and just show the type of player that he is,” Williams said of George. “I think sometimes we kind of forget how much talent we have on this team based on injuries, so it was good for him to get going.”
The Clippers have won two of three against the Spurs, including a 134-109 victory the last time they met on Dec. 21 in San Antonio. Leonard had 26 points, nine assists and seven rebounds against his former club.
The game against the Clippers will be the first of back-to-back contests for the Spurs, who face the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
–Field Level Media