Shooters can’t find range

By Mike Monroe

Nothing about the Spurs’ six-game losing streak is as puzzling as the sudden struggles from beyond the 3-point line.

Friday’s 5-for-19 3-point shooting (26.3 percent) was the third straight game in which the Spurs shot below 30 percent from long range.

Outscored by 12 from beyond the arc by the Rockets, the Spurs suffered a 119-114 overtime loss.

Matt Bonner still leads the NBA in 3-point accuracy despite a 2-for-13 slump over the past three games, but he missed all five of his long-range attempts Friday.

Manu Ginobili, who has taken more 3-pointers than any teammate, missed four of his six against the Rockets.

It was the continuation of a trend that has coach Gregg Popovich at a loss for an explanation.

“We had a lot of great shots that guys aren’t knocking down,” he said, “guys who have been good 3-point shooters all year long, and they’re just not falling down.”

Had it been a one-game aberration, the errant shooting would not be such a worry. That it has become a trend puts a furrow on Popovich’s forehead.

“During these games, our 3-point percentage has gone in the toilet,” he said. “Our 3-point percentage has gone down, and it’s really been the difference.

“We’ve hung in every game, but you’ve got to shoot it well. There’s really no drill for that. You just have to hope that worm turns and we can shoot better.

“So we’ve got to concentrate on penetrating more, trying to move the ball a little better, and get more open, uncontested shots, and see if the percentage goes up at all.”

SHUFFLING LINEUPS: After the Spurs allowed the Rockets 64 first-half points on 52 percent shooting, Popovich opened the second half with the starting lineup he had used through the first 53 games of the season, replacing Antonio McDyess with DeJuan Blair.

Whether the change was the reason, the Spurs tightened their defense appreciably in the second half, holding Houston to 35 percent shooting in the third and fourth quarters and limiting the Rockets to just four shots in overtime.

CONFUSION REIGNS: The Spurs’ failure to take a foul to stop the clock after Houston rebounded Tony Parker’s missed 3-point attempt with 27 seconds left baffled Popovich and some of his players.

Trailing 117-114, the Spurs didn’t move to take a foul until Tim Duncan grabbed Kevin Martin with 7.5 seconds remaining in the overtime period.

Popovich waved his arms frantically and screamed for his players to foul, but Parker said crowd noise prevented him from hearing Popovich, whom he could not see from his position on the court.

“For me, we were down three with three seconds (difference between the shot clock and game clock), and I thought it was better not to foul because if we make a stop we have a chance to tie the game,” Parker said. “That’s what went through my head, and I didn’t hear Pop calling for the foul.”

GREEN TO AUSTIN: The Spurs on Saturday assigned swingman Danny Green to their Austin Toros team in the NBA D-League. Signed for the remainder of the season March 16, Green had appeared in three games. He scored seven points with three rebounds and two assists.

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