January 14, 2015

While they're coming off perhaps their best win of the season against mighty Golden State, the San Antonio Spurs are making certain not to get too full of themselves.

That's likely because they're hitting the road to face a Charlotte Hornets team that has nearly been as good as the Warriors and Spurs over the past seven weeks.

With a chance to reach 60 wins for the sixth time in its history, San Antonio chases a seventh straight victory overall and 11th in a row versus Charlotte on Monday night.

The Spurs (59-10) easily lead the NBA with 92.3 points allowed per game, but they put together their most impressive defensive effort Saturday when they held the Warriors 36.9 points below their league-leading average in an 87-79 victory.

Danny Green helped limit MVP front-runner Stephen Curry to 4-of-18 shooting as San Antonio won its 44th straight home game - tied for the second longest such run in NBA history - while slowing Golden State's drive for a league-record 73 victories. The Spurs, however, aren't pounding their chests despite moving within three games of the Warriors.

"I think we have to be very humble because of the situation, the way they got here. With all of that, they are a very tough team to beat," guard Manu Ginobili said.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard added 18 and 14 as the Spurs owned a 53-37 advantage on the glass. Now they'll play their only road contest over an eight-game stretch after extending their latest winning streak to six.

Aldridge has been a catalyst, averaging 24.2 points over his last 10 games. Leonard has scored 24.3 per game in his past 12.

"Whoever wins the (Golden State) game doesn't automatically advance to the finals, so it's just another game," Leonard said. "We're just trying to get better each and every game going into the playoffs."

The Spurs will need to be focused as they take on the Hornets, whose 17-5 record since Jan. 31 is the NBA's third-best behind to San Antonio (20-2) and Golden State (19-3).

Charlotte (39-30), in a tight four-team race between third and sixth in the Eastern Conference, looks to regroup after Saturday's 101-93 loss to Denver - only its third in 15 home games. Nicolas Batum had 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, but Kemba Walker and Courtney Lee scored a combined 22 on 9-of-28 shooting.

The Hornets shot 42.2 percent and were outrebounded 51-38 after they had averaged 113.8 points with a plus-4.7 rebounding margin in winning nine of the prior 10 games.

''If we're not going to have everybody pretty much engaged and playing well, we don't beat anybody," coach Steve Clifford said.

That's been the case more often that not against the Spurs, who have won 10 in a row and 20 of the past 22 in this series. Leonard finished with 23 points Nov. 7 when San Antonio shot 55.6 percent in a 114-94 win at the AT&T Center.

Walker has totaled 56 points over his last two meetings.

"You have to play well in every aspect (to beat the Spurs)," Clifford said. "They're great on offense. They're great on defense. They're high-execution, so you have to do everything."

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