The injury-riddled Philadelphia 76ers are in a horrible slump. Having to visit San Antonio may not be the ideal way for them to get on track.
Philadelphia has one road victory over the Spurs in nearly 23 years, and it will be trying to end a season-high five-game skid when it meets San Antonio on Sunday night.
The Sixers (5-11) opened with three wins in five games before starting this extended slump. They've dropped nine of 11, falling 100-86 at home to Atlanta on Friday night for their fifth straight defeat.
Philadelphia hasn't been playing with a full roster. Elton Brand missed his second consecutive game Friday with a sore right hamstring, guard Lou Williams is out eight weeks after having surgery on his fractured jaw Thursday, and forward Marreese Speights is sidelined until January with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
"We're a little banged up, but we have to fight through it," said forward Jason Smith, who started his second straight game in place of Brand and tied his career high with 14 points. "We'll get better. We have to work through this stretch."
Rookie Jrue Holiday started again in place of Williams and was 1 for 8 from the field in 25 minutes.
Four of the Sixers' opponents during the five-game skid have scored more than 100, and they allowed the Hawks to shoot 51.4 percent from the field - 9 of 18 from 3-point range.
"Our defense is suspect at times," reserve Jason Kapono said. "There are things we need to tighten up or we'll continue to get beat."
Philadelphia has continually been beaten in San Antonio, going 1-21 since the start of the 1986-87 season, with the lone win coming Jan. 3, 2004. The Spurs are 7-2 at home this season, averaging 107.3 points.
San Antonio (8-6) finally won on the road Friday night, beating Houston 92-84 after dropping its first four away from home.
Tim Duncan had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Antonio McDyess added season highs of 15 points and 14 boards, and Tony Parker had 19 points and seven assists as the Spurs extended their win streak to a season-high four.
McDyess, in his first season with San Antonio, was inserted into the starting lineup Nov. 21, the first game during this win streak.
"I'll do whatever it takes," he said. "It's not about stats, it's all about winning. I told coach (Gregg Popovich) I'll play anywhere he wants me to. All I want to do is win and I'll do whatever it takes. When you first come to a team you are not as aggressive because you don't want to step on anyone's toes."
Manu Ginobili missed his fifth straight game with a strained groin, but Popovich said he could return Sunday. Ginobili is averaging 14.1 points and is second on the team behind Parker with 4.2 assists per game.
Philadelphia came close to earning a win in San Antonio on Jan. 3, but Parker got an offensive rebound with 0.9 seconds left and hit a high-arching 15-footer at the buzzer to give the Spurs a 108-106 win.
No Asterisks in this life, it's all about scoreboard - Ari Gold
NBA.com - Referee Assignments
Nov 29, 2009
Philadelphia @ San Antonio--Ken Mauer, Matt Boland, Sean Wright
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
---Winston Churchill (1903)
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