SPURS GAMEDAY: Indianapolis next stop in 4-game road trip

Dejounte Murray, leading a fast break against the Indiana Pacers last season at thje AT&T Center, has started the first five games of the season at point guard.  
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Spurs (4-1) vs. Indiana Pacers (2-3)
When, where:
3:30 p.m., Sunday, Indianapolis
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Spurs 100, Pacers 99, March 1, 2017, AT&T Center
Spurs’ last game: Lost to Magic 114-87, Friday, Orlando
Pacers’ last game: Lost to Thunder 114-96, Wednesday, Oklahoma City
Notable: The Spurs’ 4-1 record ties the best start through five games in franchise history.

It was going to happen sooner or later.

After starting the season 4-0, the Spurs looked like a team going through the motions without its top player Friday night in a 27-point loss to the Magic in Orlando.

“We were very sloppy, but their game plan was great,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. “Coach (Frank) Vogel did a good job taking us out of what we wanted to do, and they did it for 48 minutes. They outplayed us in every facet of the game.”

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The Spurs continue their four-game road trip Sunday against the Indiana Pacers, who are coming off a lopsided road loss themselves, falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 18 points Wednesday.

The Spurs swept the Pacers in their two-game series last season, winning 110-106 on Feb. 13 in Indianapolis and 100-99 on March 1 at the AT&T Center.

Despite the lopsided loss to the Magic, the Spurs’ 4-1 record ties their best start through five games in franchise history.

With All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard still sidelined with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps, five-time All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge has become the focal point of the San Antonio offense. Aldridge got his third double-double of the season in the loss to Orlando, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 11 rebounds.

Aldridge, who has scored at least 20 points in each of the Spurs’ first five games, is averaging a team-leading 25.6 points and 9.2 rebounds.

Popovich said last week that Leonard, who hasn’t played in a game since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last May, could return in early November. Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals last season, when he was a finalist for the NBA MVP award.

The Spurs also started the season without veteran point guard Tony Parker, who has been sidelined since rupturing a tendon in his left quadriceps in Game 2 of the conference semifinals.

Parker had surgery two days after sustaining the injury, and has yet to even practice with the Spurs. He started playing two-on-two and three-on-three games two weeks ago, and finally went five-on-five last week for the first time since he was injured.  

Parker said Friday after his third day of playing five-on-five with the Austin Toros, the Spurs’ G League team, that he felt well and has had no setbacks since getting back on the court.

“I could start playing right now, but I feel that my cardio is not there yet and I want to make sure my leg is strong enough to be able to hold on the whole season,” Parker said.

Parker has targeted late November or early December for his return, although he acknowledged the decision on when he comes back will rest with Popovich.  

Asked if he thinks he’ll start when he returns, Parker said: “That’s going to be Pop’s decision. That’s not my decision. My job right now is to try to get back and play well, and try to help the team.”

Second-year pro Dejounte Murray has started the first five games of the season at point guard for the Spurs. Kyle Anderson and newcomer Rudy Gay have split time filling in for Leonard at small forward.

Guard Danny Green and center Pau Gasol have joined Murray, Anderson and Aldridge in the starting lineup in the first five games of the season.

Pacers center Myles Turner (concussion) has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Former Spurs backup point guard Cory Joseph is in his first season with the Pacers after getting traded by Toronto this summer. Joseph played on San Antonio’s 2013-14 championship team.

Up next for the Spurs after Sunday’s game: at Boston, Monday, 6:30 p.m.
Next Spurs home game: vs. Golden State, Thursday, 7 p.m.