Sunday night the Spurs battled against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings came into San Antonio fresh off their best win of the season, a 108-103 overtime victory over the Miami Heat. In it, Demarcus Cousins scored 27 points and pulled down 17 boards to lead the Kings to their ninth win of the season. I was hoping that their victory would convince the Spurs to take Sunday seriously, but they lost focus and required some late-game heroics to pull out the victory, 112-104.
In the first quarter, the Spurs basically traded baskets with the Kings. Marco Belinelli once again started in favor of Danny Green, and I'm still pretty sure I don't like it at all. I prefer to have our best defensive lineup start the game and although Marco is a great offensive player, the team loses some of their defensive prowess when he starts over Danny Green. Green came off the bench last game and made all of his shots so some seem to think that his performance vindicates the change to the lineup. Look, Green is just streaky; that's why we call him Icy Hot. Coming off the bench had nothing to do with him catching fire. That's just how he plays. With Tony, Kawhi and Tim on the floor, I just do not think there are enough offensive touches left for Marco to justify the switch. The Spurs finished the first quarter up 27-24.
The Spurs began the second quarter very well. Over the first six minutes of the quarter, they held the Kings to just four points which allowed them to build a 15 point lead, 45-30. I thought they were going to blow the Kings out but they relaxed and the Kings scored 19 point over the last six minutes of the quarter to cut the Spurs' lead to eight at halftime, 57-49.
The Kings carried their offensive momentum into the third quarter, which they owned. The Kings scored 38 points in the quarter while the Spurs scored 24 and just like that, the Spurs found themselves down by six entering the fourth, 87-81. In the third, Isaiah Thomas went nuts to lead the Kings' comeback. He put up 17 points in the quarter and the Spurs just couldn't slow him down. The Kings are a fairly scary team after their latest trade in which the acquired Rudy Gay. Gay and Cousins can create shots for themselves at will and if Isaiah gets hot, as he did tonight, they can put up a lot of points in a short amount of time.
To be fair, the Spurs didn't help themselves at all in this one. Once they got up 15, I really think they thought the Kings were done and the Spurs quit playing solid defense. The Kings took advantage of the Spurs' lackluster intensity and caught fire. Once they were hot, the Spurs couldn't slow them down and in the fourth, the Spurs were in a dog fight.
The Spurs began the fourth well and quickly cut the Kings' lead to three with ten minutes still to play in the quarter. It felt as if the Spurs had captured the game's momentum and were going to put it out of reach, but the Kings called a timeout to regroup and it worked. The Kings played a good fourth quarter and really made the Spurs earn this one.
Luckily for us, the good guys have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Manu scored ten of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to give the Spurs a chance. Down four points with four minutes remaining, Ginobili hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game, 102-102. The Spurs then fed Tim the ball who responded with a huge three point play, to the dismay of Demarcus Cousins. This set the stage for Tony to take over. He hit a pretty, high arcing three pointer, his second of the quarter, and then a beautiful 20-foot jumper as he faded away, to put the Spurs up 110-104 with seconds remaining. He closed the game hitting two more free throws to secure the Spurs' victory, 112-104.
- Cousins had a monster game and finished with 29 points and 14 boards while not turning the ball over once. He's really good and dominating comes easy to him, but he's still totally immature out there. He must average 24.5 pouts per game. He pouts after getting called for a foul. He pouts when his teammates miss. He pouts every time things don't go perfectly for him. I think the coach should put together a pouting highlight reel of him and force him to watch it. If he was forced to watch himself pout, I bet he'd get embarrassed and quit doing it. He looks ridiculous out there. "Wah-wah, I'm 7 feet tall and a millionaire, but I got called for a foul. Wah-wah." Seriously, he needs to cut that out.
- Rudy Gay looked good finishing with 24 points and nine rebounds. He made 10 of his 20 shots, four of six from the line, and didn't turn it over. That's probably the most efficient game you can ask from him. Isaiah Thomas also had a great game. He scored 27 points and dished out nine assists. He scored 17 of his points in the third quarter to lead the Kings' comeback charge. Overall, the Kings put up a great fight tonight.
- Manu Ginobili played a fantastic all-around game. Manu scored 28 points on just 16 shots. He made all six of his attempts from the line and he connected on four of his nine 3-point attempts. Manu has looked great all year. It's been a long time since he's been slowed by an injury, knock on wood, and I think it's really enabled him to establish a great rhythm. His game is so dependent on timing that injuries can really derail his play, more so than other players. He's so creative with the ball that if his pass or dribble drives are off by inches, it's the difference between a score and a turnover. He is playing at an elite level and it's so much fun to watch.
- Tim Duncan had a double-double with 17 points and 13 boards while Tiago played well making five of his six shots for 11 points and he also grabbed eight boards. The duo underneath the rim had trouble slowing Demarcus Cousins, but they didn't let that stop them from playing well offensively.
- Tony Parker played his best game in recent memory. He's been in a bit of a slump but came out of it to score an efficient 22 points on 14 shots and dished out seven assists without turning the ball over. As a team, the Spurs only had four turnovers in the game. Despite the quarter and a half that they took off on the defensive end, they were able to win this game because they took care of the ball tonight.
- Boris Diaw scored 14 points off the bench and has a game-high +/- of +17. Normally, I don't pay attention to that stat but I think it's important when talking about Boris because it verifies what I watched. The Spurs play great ball when he's on the floor. He's now an offensive threat and teams don't know how to defend him. He's such a gifted passer and creative offensive player that if he is attacking the rim, there's no good way to slow him down. He also played a good defensive game tonight.
- Pop went with Baynes off the bench instead of Bonner or Ayres. I liked the move. I bet he leads the league in accidental smack-downs per minute played. He's so big that he accidentally knocks the hell out of people. It makes me laugh.
Please visit Sac Town Royalty for the Kings' perspective.