Gameday at a glance
Phoenix Suns (15-25) vs. Spurs (26-13)
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., AT&T Center
Season series: Spurs lead 2-0
Last meeting: Spurs 104, Suns 101, Dec. 9, Phoenix
Suns' last game: Lost to Nuggets 134-111, Wednesday, Denver
Spurs' last game: Lost to 76ers 112-106, Wednesday, Philadelphia
Suns' last 10 games, streak: 6-4, lost one
Spurs' last 10 games, streak: 7-3, lost one
Notable: Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) and Danny Green (tightness, left groin) are out for Friday night's game . . . The Spurs are 27-6 in the last three seasons when Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge both score at least 20 points.
After starting the new year with a 100-91 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday, the Spurs ended their three-game road trip against East Conference opponents with a 112-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.
The Silver and Black, who started the trip with a 93-79 setback in Detroit last Saturday, played the 76ers without three starters – Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Danny Green – and key reserve Manu Ginobili. Rudy Gay, another steady backup, already was out with bursitis in his right heel.
Leonard and Parker were held out of the second night of the back-to-back as part of their return-from-injury management program. Green was sidelined with a groin injury and Ginobili was rested by coach Gregg Popovich.
Leonard, Parker, and Ginobili are expected to be back on the floor for Friday night's game against the Phoenix Suns at the AT&T Center, but Gay and Green remain sidelined.
San Antonio is 2-0 against Phoenix this season, beating the Suns 112-95 on Nov. 5 at the AT&T Center and 104-101 Dec. 9 in Phoenix.
The Spurs trailed the 76ers by as many as 16 points Wednesday before they rallied and went ahead 101-100 on a three-pointer by Patty Mills with 2:49 left. But with all their playmakers on the bench, the visitors couldn't put away Philly down the stretch.
Mills finished with a season-high 26 points and LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 24 and a game-high 14 rebounds. Bryn Forbes (15), Kyle Anderson (14) and Davis Bertans (13) rounded out San Antonio's double-figure scoring.
The 76ers snapped a 12-game losing streak against the Spurs with the victory. Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, who was on Popovich's staff for four of San Antonio's first five NBA championships, was 0-8 against his former boss.
The 76ers were led by center Joel Embid, who had been ruled out with a sprained right hand. But Embid started and finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in 35 minutes.
Popovich learned only minutes before tipoff that Embid would play.
“I'm glad he played,” Popovich said. “I want to see him play. He's great.”
A 7-footer from Cameroon, Embid played at Kansas for one season before turning pro. Selected by Philadelphia with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, he made his league debut in October 2016.
As they near the midpoint of their season, the Spurs remain a work in progress. They have played only one game at full strength, beating the Brooklyn Nets 109-97 on Dec. 26 at the AT&T Center.
“It feels good to see what we're capable of,” Gay said.
Two nights after the victory against the Nets, Gay left the Spurs' 119-107 victory against the Knicks with a sore heel late in the third quarter. He was diagnosed with bursitis in his right heel the next day. Gay was expected to be out for at least two weeks.
Up next for the Spurs after Friday's game: at Portland, Sunday, 8 p.m.