SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs have yet to drop a road game in 13 attempts in 2016-17 and will try to wrap up a sweep of the current three-game trip when they visit Chicago on Thursday.
A win against the Bulls would also tie the NBA record for most consecutive road wins to start a season. The record of 14 was set last season by the Golden State Warriors.
Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard is on a roll and is helping the team overcome an injury to point guard Tony Parker.
Leonard went 11-of-15 from the floor en route to 31 points in a 105-91 win at Minnesota on Tuesday and drew praise from coach Gregg Popovich.
Leonard has now scored 30-plus points six times this season after only achieving the 30-point mark four times last season.
"By this point in his career, he's a confident player," Popovich told reporters of Leonard. "He knows he has a green light. We call his number now and then, but he does a lot of this stuff on his own, and he's getting pretty good at pick-and-roll. Special, special young man."
The Bulls are losers of three in a row since knocking off the Cleveland Cavaliers, and star swingman Jimmy Butler is putting the blame on the defense.
"We're not defending the way we're capable of," Butler told reporters. "Messing up assignments, we're not boxing out. We're not playing to guys' weaknesses. We can't let that happen. We got to fix it. We got to treat every last one of these games like it's our last one."
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ABOUT THE SPURS (18-4): Parker missed three of the last four games and is questionable to make his return from a thigh injury on Thursday, though San Antonio is confident in Argentinian rookie Nicolas Laprovittola starting in his absence.
"We knew that Tony was gonna miss some games, and to have another person that has the courage and the experience to play that position is important," Popovich told reporters. "... He has the same spirit as Manu (Ginobili). He's got no fear. I wish he was 6-7 like Manu. But he's been there. He's been around. He's not intimidated by the NBA. He's not impressed. He's enjoying himself, but it's not debilitating for him."
Laprovittola scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting on Tuesday.
ABOUT THE BULLS (11-10): Chicago's starting point guard missed some time recently as well, with Rajon Rondo serving a one-game ban for conduct detrimental to the team during Monday's 112-110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The enigmatic former All-Star, who is averaging 8.3 points, 6.9 assists and 6.4 rebounds, handed out two assists in 37 minutes during Tuesday's loss at Detroit.
"We’re hitting a rough patch right now and you’ve got to find a way to fight through that," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. "It’s what’s going to define our team this year is how we handle these adverse situations. You’ve got to keep fighting and you’ve got to keep trusting each other."
1. Bulls F Doug McDermott (concussion) missed the last 11 games but hopes to be cleared for Thursday.
2. San Antonio G Patty Mills is 2-of-12 from 3-point range in the last two games.
3. The teams split the two-game series in each of the last three seasons.