After riding a season-high six game winning streak, the San Antonio Spurs came back to Earth this week with a pair of grueling losses on the NBA road. Chris Paul and the Hornets kicked off the skid by avenging their Western Conference semi-finals Game 7 loss to the Spurs in New Orleans. During the course of the contest, Paul broke former Spur Alvin Robertson's longstanding consecutive-game-with-a steal-record, established by Alvin in the 1985-86 campaign. CP3 chased the accomplishment by winning a critical late game jump-ball over Manu Ginobili albeit in somewhat shady fashion. The next evening in Orlando and on national television, Dwight Howard and the Magic looked to lionhearted point-guard Jameer Nelson to lift them past San Antonio with 24 points, including 11 in crunch time.
On Saturday night, the Spurs bounced back in the AlamoCity by shaking off their shooting woes against Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors. NBA Live 09 cover-boy Tony Parker led the Spurs with 24 points 10 dimes and 8 boards, almost collecting the first triple-double of his career. Future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan added 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks of his own, helping secure the 107-97 victory over the Raps, and bringing the Spurs to 16-10 record.
San Antonio is currently third in the Southwest Division behind Houston and New Orleans, and clearly a tier behind Boston, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. Their upcoming Christmas Day showdown in Phoenix with Shaq and the Suns should provide a good indicator of where Coach Pop's team is at, and what weaknesses may need to be addressed before the NBA's trading deadline. Look for the early tip-off to encourage a sluggish start but result in a close contest nonetheless.