Will the real San Antonio Spurs step to the front, please? The Spurs have been great at some times and bad at others, and have been as difficult to predict as any team NBA team in recent seasons.
So which San Antonio team will show up Friday when the Spurs host the Atlanta Hawks? It's a wait-and-see situation.
Wins over the likes of Milwaukee, Boston and Toronto -- the latter two on the road -- have followers thinking San Antonio has turned the proverbial corner, but the fact is that the Spurs have been head-scratchingly inconsistent this season.
The Spurs (17-22) return home after going 2-2 on the road over an eight-day stretch and a 106-100 loss at Miami on Wednesday. DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio with 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting in the setback.
"The game was right there," DeRozan told reporters afterward. "If we wouldn't been able to score on two or three possessions, but it just got away from us. There's a lot of basketball to be played
"And we are trending in the right direction. We've played well against some great teams that does a lot for our confidence, knowing how much time is left in the season."
DeRozan scored 20 or more points and shot 50 percent or better from the floor for the 12th straight game. Only the legendary Michael Jordan has matched that streak in league history.
Patty Mills added 21 points off the bench in the loss to Miami with LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 12 and Bryn Forbes and Derrick White hitting for 11 points each for the Spurs.
The Hawks (9-32) head to the Alamo City on the heels of a 123-110 win at home over Phoenix on Tuesday that snapped a four-game losing streak. Atlanta has now won three of its past 18 games.
Trae Young scored 21 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter alone, returning to the lineup after sitting out blowout loss Sunday in Brooklyn with left hamstring pain. Young also had 10 assists in Tuesday's win. He was the catalyst behind Atlanta's final-period run.
"I thought we really slowed the game down," Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said of Atlanta's fourth-quarter performance. "Trae obviously gets hot, but to really get organized, slow the game down, make a lot of end-of-shot-clock plays, but you have to have a closer in this league. You have to be able to execute in the fourth quarter in this league and our guys did a really good job of that tonight."
Young now has 20 games with 30-plus points, which ranks third in the league behind Houston's James Harden (28) and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo (21).
Kevin Huerter added 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in the win while John Collins produced 22 points and 10 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season.
"Always good to come together and get a nice team win," Collins said, "have some of our young core pieces get going like we did tonight, see everybody flowing, get everybody in the flow of the offense."
The Hawks won the first meeting of the season with the Spurs, 108-100 in Atlanta on Nov. 5. San Antonio is 55-39 all-time against the Hawks. The Spurs' current 21-game home winning streak against Atlanta is their longest active home winning streak against any opponent.
--Field Level Media