SAN ANTONIO (AP)The San Antonio Spurs are hitting the road as inconsistent as ever. At least they’re starting this nearly month-long trip on an upswing.
DeMar DeRozan had 24 points and the Spurs overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Charlotte Hornets 114-90 Saturday night in their final home game for 3 1/2 weeks.
”We competed in the second half,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ”We didn’t compete in the first half.”
The Spurs held the Hornets to 27 points in the second half and outscored them by 37.
Miles Bridges had 25 points for Charlotte, which has lost 10 of 11.
”It’s big, especially with that second half that we had,” San Antonio center Jakob Poeltl said. ”It really got us going. I hope we can carry that over into our road trip. The spirits are high right now.”
Poeltl added 17 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes for the Spurs.
San Antonio plays its next eight games on the road as the AT&T Center hosts the city’s annual Stock Show & Rodeo. Its next home game is Feb. 26 against Dallas.
The Spurs outscored the Hornets 50-15 during a stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to win their second straight after losing three in a row.
”Every single guy was out there was trying to make a play, whatever it was,” DeRozan said. ”Whether it was a steal, getting in the passing lane, blocked shot, rebound, anything.”
San Antonio went on a 23-2 run in the third quarter, erasing a 19-point deficit with their defense. The Spurs had seven steals and the Hornets committed nine turnovers in the period.
”We knew Pop’ was going to be on their tail at halftime,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. ”We talked about it at halftime, but for young guys, they just have to go through it.
”I can say it until I’m blue in the face in the locker room. `The pressure is going to pick up. They’re going to get into you. They’re going to try to turn you over.’ It’s just one of those things we have to go through.”
Poeltl ran down an errant pass intended for Willy Hernangomez at midcourt and Eurostepped in the lane for a layup between two defenders to cut the lead to 72-68. Patty Mills had a steal on the Hornets’ next possession and tossed the ball upcourt to Derrick White, who completed a three-point play.
DeRozan put the Spurs up 74-72, their first lead since the opening minutes of the second quarter.
”We did a great job of moving the ball in the first half, but in the second half we didn’t move the ball that much,” Bridges said. ”That was the difference.”
Charlotte had 22 points in the paint during the second quarter in grabbing a 63-50 lead. Cody Zeller had two dunks and Devonte’ Graham threw down an alley-oop, drawing gasps from the crowd.
Zeller finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Graham had eight points.
Hornets: Borrego received a warm reception when introduced prior to the game. Borrego was a Spurs assistant coach from 2003-2010 and 2015-2018.
Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge had eight points and seven rebounds in his return from a two-game absence due to a sprained right thumb. … Poeltl has 75 blocks in 48 games this season, second only to the 100 he had in 82 games with Toronto in 2018.
ONE OF A KIND
Borrego did not foresee Tim Duncan becoming an assistant coach once his playing career was over but said the pairing makes sense given Duncan’s selflessness.
Borrego was an assistant for 10 seasons under Gregg Popovich. Duncan joined Popovich’s staff this season as an assistant coach after retiring in 2016 as the franchise’s leader in numerous categories.
”I have never seen anything like him,” Borrego said. ”The humility, the transparency. Every loss he took on his shoulders, every win he praised the people around him. That’s rare in today’s NBA or in sports culture.”
The Spurs were still buzzing about Poeltl’s Eurostep after the game.
”I didn’t even think about it,” Poeltl said, chucking throughout his answer. ”It just came to me. I saw a lot of open court in front of me, so I went for it.”
Hornets: Host Orlando on Monday night.
Spurs: At Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
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