The Spurs faced the Sacramento Kings Friday night at the AT&T Center. The Kings entered the game with an unimpressive record of 28 wins and 50 losses. The Kings have a lot of issues. First, Demarcus Cousins is nuts. Second, Seattle is greater than Sacramento and the Sonics want the Kings. Knowing nothing of the specifics, I think Seattle wins. It's tied for my favorite city in the nation with Hanover, Boston, NYC, and Austin. Having lost four of their last five games, in addition to the rest of their troubles, the Kings were a welcomed sight for the struggling Spurs.
Pregame, the media room was abuzz with the shocking news of Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson. Boris had unexpected back surgery to remove a cyst and will be out 3 to 4 weeks. Most are hopeful that he'll be back in time for the second round of the playoffs. Just to one-up that story, a few hours before the game it was announced that Stephen Jackson had been waived from the Spurs' roster. What the H?
So, no Diaw and no Jack? In response to a question about the Spurs' new-found lack of depth, Pop replied, "Yeah, we're a little thin. But life goes on. No one knew it was going to be 3 to 4 weeks with Boris, but we had two events that weren't [related]."
If Kahwi gets in foul trouble, who guards Durant or Lebron? It seems like a problem to me. Releasing Stephen Jackson at this point in the season just seems like a mistake, regardless of his mouth. His size gave the Spurs' lineup flexibility that they no longer possess. And don't forget that Jackson was one of the few Spurs that played well against OKC last year in the Western Conference Finals. Does he still make love to pressure? It's upsetting that we will never know.
Diaw's absence, on the other hand, is simply scary, especially given Popovich's decision to play Bonner and Blair together for extended minutes against the Denver Nuggets. Blair and Bonner should never play together. I can't fathom a match-up that would favor that duo. Thankfully, Popovich put that fire out by never pairing the two together against the Kings.
The first quarter played out as expected. The Kings looked simply awful and only managed to score 13 points. The Spurs played well, but Kawhi missed all four of his open 3-pointers and the Kings managed to stay close, 23-13.
The second quarter was an offensive explosion as both teams scored 37 points. Defense aside, it was refreshing to see Tony Parker find his rhythm. In the last 3:38 of the quarter, Tony scored 13 points to keep the Spurs' lead at ten points at the half.
After the game, Pop boasted, "Tony did a great job. He would have had 1,000 assists if guys could make shots. He decided if he couldn't get an assist he might as well score. I asked him, are you gonna shoot tonight? He did and he was spectacular."
It'd been six games since the Spurs had broken the 100 point barrier. They did it with ease against the Kings and it was greatly thanks to their leader back at the helm. Yes, it was only the Kings and yes, they are lowly. But the Spurs looked good with their All Star point guard back in the lineup. Given the upsetting Diaw and Jack news, let's not discount a nice performance from the head of the snake.
The Spurs lost the second half by three points, resulting in their seven point victory. Several times it appeared as if the Spurs were moments away from blowing it open, but they made silly turnovers to keep the Kings within striking distance. Even though the score would seem to disagree, the Spurs' victory was never really in doubt. They led nearly the entire game and seemed to be toying with the Kings throughout. I'm sure Pop enjoyed that.
-- Kobe Bryant tore his achilles tendon tonight. He'll have an MRI Saturday to confirm, but at this point it's expected to be a complete tear. His body broke during the game. Kobe first tweaked his knee. Later, he hurt his ankle. Finally, his achilles gave out on him. I watched it happen and have to say, Kobe is one tough mother. Seriously, 99% of the NBA's players would have taken themselves out of the game before their achilles tore. Dislike him or hate him, you have to admit, the guy is a warrior. I hope his rehab is successful and that the Lakers never make the playoffs again, even with 50 free throw attempts per game. 50!!!
-- Oh, the game. Well, the Kings are not very good, so it's difficult to take anything meaningful from the game. Tony played great and that was comforting to watch. Whenever the game slowed, he took it upon himself to make something happen. In short, it's what the Spurs have been desperately missing recently. Without Tony and Manu, the Spurs are as good as the opposing defense allows, and that is painful to watch.
-- DeJuan Blair played a great game. I'm completely on his bandwagon, even if it means I have to sit next to TheGhostOfJH as he goes on and on about how he told me so. Blair looks to be in great shape and is hungry for the opportunity, (rather than for a WhatABurger). In 15 minutes, he had 6 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 assist with a +/- of +9. He's a very serviceable player when he plays with passion. At this point in the season, he'll bring the hustle every game. DeJuan has the opportunity to elevate the Spurs' play and I think he will.
-- Tiago Splitter nearly had a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. I tweeted Andrew McNeil of 48MOH, who was sitting on the floor, to let Tiago know that he was only four away, but I feel as if the message didn't make it to Splitter. I was only half-serious, to be fair to me. Also, I was at the game; that's on me. I should have just used my press pass to maneuver my way to the Spurs' huddle so I could relay the message in person. These are the ideas that wander through my mind, sometimes a lot of times.
-- Jeff McDonald asked Tony what he was expecting from the Lakers and Tony responded, "A playoff game. They are fighting for the eighth spot and we are fighting for the first spot, so I expect a great game." It was convincing. Personally, I thought the Spurs were purposely working their way to the second seed. However, Tony said this well before Kobe injured himself. I really think the Spurs' players are willing to fight anyone that gets in their way. I like the attitude.
-- Demarcus, as previously stated, is nuts. He has great potential, but his mind is severely lacking. Cousins attempted to throw down with Sean Elliott earlier this season because Sean called him immature during the telecast. Yep, that's all you need to know.
Please check out SacTown Royalty for the other team's perspective.
Also, follow me @DartFred. I tweet from the games and I'll keep you entertained with my mean-spirited opinions concerning Team Energy.
PS, if you haven't already, read Dr. Duke's article. Trinity is lucky to have her.