SPURS GAMEDAY: Margin for error razor thin against defending champs

Silver and Black play Warriors in first of three straight road games

GAMEDAY AT A GLANCE

Spurs (37-27) vs. Warriors (50-14)

When, where: Thursday, 9:30 p.m., Oakland, Calif.

Season series: Warriors lead 2-0

Last meeting: Warriors 122, Spurs 105, Feb. 10, Oakland

Spurs’ last game: Beat Grizzlies 100-98, Monday, AT&T Center

Warriors’ last game: Beat Nets 114-101, Tuesday, Oakland

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Spurs’ last 10 games, streak: 3-7, won one

Warriors’ last 10 games, streak: 9-1, won six

Spurs’ injury report: Pau Gasol (right AC sprain) and Kawhi Leonard (rehabbing quad injury) are out for Thursday’s game.

Notable: Manu Ginobili is the third player in NBA history with 500+ career victories coming off the bench. The other two: Michael Cooper (540) and Steve Kerr (584) . . . Danny Green is the only guard in the NBA with 50+ steals and 50+ blocks in each of the last six seasons.

GAME PREVIEW

If momentum is everything it's cracked up to be in sports, the Spurs could be in trouble when they open a rugged three-game road trip against the defending league champion Golden State Warriors.

The Silver and Black struggled Monday to pull out a 100-98 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the worst record in the NBA and have lost 14 straight. The win was only San Antonio's third in its last 11 games and snapped a four-game losing skid at the AT&T Center.

Once entrenched in third place in the rough-and-tumble Western Conference, the Spurs (37-27) are now fifth and lead No. 6 Minnesota (38-28) by percentage points with 18 games left on their schedule. No. 7 Oklahoma City (37-29) and No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers (34-29) are nipping at the Spurs' and Timberwolves' heels.

No. 9 Denver and No. 10 Utah, both 35-30, are percentage points behind the Clippers. The top eight teams from each of league's two conferences advance to the playoffs.

First-place Houston (50-13) and Golden State are far ahead of the pack in the West, but the next eight teams are separated by only four games.

Given the Spurs' schedule in the home stretch and the competitiveness of the West playoff race, their streak of 20 playoff seasons could be on its last legs. After facing Golden State on Thursday, the Silver and Black play at Oklahoma City on Saturday and visit Houston on Monday.

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"Our margin of error is very, very small because of our situation and our dynamic right now," starting Spurs center Pau Gasol said. "We've just got to minimize mistakes. We've got to be really sharp, as much as we can, so we put ourselves in better positions."

Danny Green, going up for a dunk in the Spurs' 112-92 home loss to the Warriors on Nov. 2, finished with eight points, three rebounds and four assists.

Gasol will not play Thursday night after spraining his right shoulder in the second half of the game against Memphis. All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, still trying to overcome a lingering quad injury, remains sidelined.

San Antonio is 3-8 against Golden State in their last 11 meetings, which includes a Warriors' sweep in last year's conference finals. Golden State leads the season series 2-0, winning the first meeting 112-92 at the AT&T Center and taking the second game 122-105 Feb. 10 in Oakland, Calif.

Factor in the Spurs' injury situation, and it's easy to conclude why Golden State should win handily again. The Warriors have won their last six.

Still, the Silver and Black are a proud bunch and won't go quietly into the night. Veteran point guard Parker, who led the Spurs with 23 points in the win over Memphis, expressed optimism as he looked ahead to the three-game road trip.

“We’ll definitely try to get one out of three,” Parker said.

He didn't say which of the three.

"It's going to be a tough one, obviously," Parker said of the trip. "Golden State, OKC, Houston, the three big teams. We're just going to try to keep fighting, and try to fight for a spot in the playoffs. Whatever happens, losing Pau now, it's just one of those years that we've had a lot of injuries. We're just going to try to find a way to make the playoffs."

Up next for the Spurs after Thursday's game: at Oklahoma City, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Next Spurs home game: vs. Orlando, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.