What Happened?

Just over a month ago, the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs were in a familiar position - atop the Western Conference. Since then, though, the surprising New Orleans Hornets surged past them.

The Hornets look for the first eight-game road winning streak in franchise history when they visit the Spurs on Saturday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made San Antonio –5.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 212.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio –5.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

San Antonio (28-13) has finished first or second in its division each year since 1997-98, and had the best record in the West on Dec. 18 at 18-6. On that date, New Orleans (30-12), which has never won a division title in its 20-year history, was fifth in the West, 3 1/2 games off the pace.

The Hornets have erased that deficit by going a NBA-best 15-2 to take a 1 1/2-game lead over the third-place Spurs in the Southwest Division.

The Hornets wrapped up a five-game homestand with a 111-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, extending their season-high winning streak to seven.

New Orleans is outscoring its opponents by an average of 19.7 points during its run, winning six of those games by at least 14. The Hornets have not won eight straight in a single season since Feb. 19-March 7, 2003 - the club's first in Louisiana.

On Friday, the Hornets trailed 53-52 with just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter before going on 22-2 run. Peja Stojakovic drained five 3-pointers over that stretch and finished with a game-high 26 points.

"I don't know how to explain that,'' said Stojakovic, who finished 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. "You always think: 'You never know if you don't try.' You've got to let it fly. Some nights they go in, some nights not.''

This will be the Hornets' first road game since defeating Houston 87-82 on Jan. 13. That matched the franchise record for consecutive road victories at seven, set from Feb. 21-March 24, 1998, when the club was in Charlotte.

New Orleans has the West's best road record - 15-5 - and hasn't lost there since an 88-76 defeat to Portland on Dec. 17.

The Hornets, though, haven't had much success in San Antonio as they've lost six straight there since a 98-96 win on Jan. 24, 2004. The Spurs are 20-4 at home this season.

In their first meeting of the season on Nov. 9, San Antonio won at New Orleans 97-85 behind 27 points and eight assists from Tony Parker. Stojakovic, meanwhile, had just two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

The Spurs have won eight straight over the Hornets by an average of 18.5 points since an 89-76 defeat in New Orleans on Dec. 18, 2005.

San Antonio is coming off a 90-89 win over struggling Miami on Thursday, its third straight win after losing four of six.

The Spurs needed to rally from a 10-point second-half deficit against the Heat, and Manu Ginobili's driving layup with 36.5 seconds left was the go-ahead score.

"We didn't play great,'' said Ginobili, who finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. "But mentally, we were there and we gave our best effort.''

Tim Duncan scored 30 on 14-of-19 shooting and added 11 rebounds. Duncan, who was selected to his 11th straight All-Star team on Thursday, had 24 points and 12 rebounds against New Orleans in November.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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