The San Antonio Spurs are playing their best basketball of the season, producing an impressive four-game winning streak that has featured two straight victories on the road.
Included in that stretch is a gritty victory on Saturday against Golden State, which sported the NBA’s best record.
Here is the reward for the Spurs — a trip into Phoenix on Monday when they face the Suns, who until a loss to Golden State on Friday were riding an 18-game win streak and are arguably the best team in the league.
It’s a daunting task for San Antonio, which has come together over the past week after finding a way to get a lead and hold it, which has been a problem for most of the first quarter of the season.
The Spurs showed how far they come on Saturday in their 112-107 victory over Golden State in which San Antonio built a 21-point second-quarter lead and gave it all back and more by late in the fourth before making the plays in the final minute to clinch the win.
“I’m thrilled with the way we just played a great team and, gosh, there was so much for us to learn during that game for our young guys,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward. “It’s going to be fun to go back and pick out the things we did well and the things we did poorly.”
Derrick White scored 25 points, including a 3-pointer and three free throws in a furious final 1:05 of the game, to lead the Spurs. Dajounte Murray added 23 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, with Lonnie Walker IV hitting for 21 points, Keldon Johnson scoring 15, and Doug McDermott tallying 13 points in the win.
“We’re getting better each game, learning from our mistakes,” White said. “We made a lot of mistakes today but did a lot of good things and kind of gutted it out to get a big win on the road.”
The Suns look to rebound from a 118-96 loss at Golden State on Friday that snapped Phoenix’s team-record winning streak. The defeat, with star guard Devin Booker out with a hamstring injury, was the Suns’ first setback since Oct. 27. It was Phoenix’s lowest offensive output of the season.
“The winning streak was a lot of fun,” Suns guard Chris Paul said. “Been a long time since we felt a loss but hell, let’s start a new one.”
Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 23 points in the loss while Paul and Cameron Johnson scored 12 points each and Jae Crowder added 11. Phoenix was playing the second game of a home-road back-to-back and shot just 38.3 percent from the floor.
“I think every win is special,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said about the end to the record-breaking streak. “(The thing I will remember most) is the collective focus that we’ve had throughout this season, not just the streak. There’s a lot of basketball still to be played.
“Our standard of basketball is not where it should be, but it’s moving towards it.”
Booker’s participation on Monday will be determined close to game time.
The Suns beat San Antonio 115-111 on Nov. 22 in the Alamo City in the teams’ first meeting of the season. Phoenix has won the past three meetings.