Once again, the Spurs came out in this one and just couldn't knock down their shots from the field. I don't know what it is, but the good guys have really struggled early in games this season. This time, they hit just two of their first eight shots and about halfway through the first, the Kings owned a 16-10 advantage on the Spurs. Rudy Gay, who's had a fantastic season so far, hit his first three attempts, including a nice jumper off a Boogie Cousins screen.
Aron Baynes drew the first Cousins assignment with Tiago Splitter still mending that pesky calf. We know what Baynes is and stopping elite post players is not his forte. He tried, but he didn't have much luck on Saturday night. In the first stint he allowed Cousins to score easily from the block and once drew a questionable charge call on Boogie. Cousins slapped the restricted arc repeatedly to display his displeasure with the call. Baynes was still moving but Cousins kind of initiated the contact. I'm not offensive foul expert and it's tough to say.
It'll be great once Splitter is back and Pop can quit having to call Aron's number to check the other team's starters. I like Baynes, and in spot time he can bang and board and he knows where to go on the floor. He's an asset for the good guys and as one of the "other three" bigs he's among the more useful 10-15th men in the league. Tonight, in just 18 minutes of time on the floor, he finished tied for a team-low minus-11 for the night and went 1-for-5 from the field. It took Kawhi Leonard 40 minutes to rack up the same.
Boris Diaw was an early sub for Tim Duncan and stepped right into a pass from Manu Ginobili and canned a three. I think we can all agree that aggressive Boris is better than over-deferring Boris. Boris' first four minutes in the game produced a 9-2 run from the Spurs with the 9th point coming from a DeMarcus Cousins technical foul. Diaw put up a Diaw-line, if a little light on the assists, with a 7-8-1 in his 23 minutes. He also led the team with a plus-11 for what that's worth.
Pop made an offensive substitution at the end of the first with Matt Bonner checking in for a pretty invisible Jeff Ayres on the last possession. Danny and Matty spread the floor at the corners and Ginobili dribbled up top while the seconds ticked away on the period. With five seconds left on the shot clock, seven in the quarter, Gino drove into the paint which sucked in most of the Kings defense, and then somehow Gino squeezed a pass through all of the hands and bodies to a wide-open Green in the corner. Danny hit one of his two threes of the game (on four tries) and put Spurs up 24-23 after one.
The Spurs didn't take care of the ball as well as they had recently and turned the ball over six times in the first 16 minutes (which is twice the pace that they turned it over during the previous three contests.) The Spurs are forcing turnovers at a higher rate than last season, not as much on Saturday but they did turn back-to-back defensive possessions in the second into points as Boris forced a steal and took all the way down the court to earn a layup. A Tim Duncan block turned into a run-out and score and after that and it seemed like maybe the Spurs would push their lead to double digits. Sacramento hung tough and rattled off six straight to keep pull within one of SA.
Kawhi Leonard then responded with a beautiful post-up on Ben McLemore. He's really turning into quite the threat down there, which is fun to watch. Whi did struggle a little early on with the Spurs continuing to run the offense through him more. He wasn't bad, and we're seeing him become a better passer, but I'm in no hurry to push Whi's usage up over 30% or anything. The reps are good, but it's not always the prettiest thing to watch.
That bucket from Whi is the last thing that went well for the Spurs in the half. Luckily the Kings didn't have any luck scoring on their end either and the Spurs were still up one with three minutes left in the half. The Kings then exploded and went on a 10-0 run that was fueled by two more Spurs turnovers and a couple of blocked attempts. The Spurs missed 12 of their last 13 attempts of the second quarter and turned the ball over three times. Not good stuff.
The Kings ran out to a 10-point lead early in the third, but San Antonio responded with three defensive stops and scores on three of their next four possessions to pull Sacramento back within three, 50-53.
Matt Bonner had the unenviable task of checking Boogie and while Matt may have success defending the Ibaka's and Robin Lopez' of the world, Cousins is just too good in the post. After four straight Cousins points, Diaw checked in for Matt and Baynes checked in for Tim to take Cousins. Boogie took it at the Big Banger and scored his sixth point on three attempts. That prompted a Popovich timeout.
Baynes then had a successful two minute stretch where he played Boogie well on a possession, tallied an assist and scored his lone bucket. Still, by the time the third ended the Spurs had doubled their output from the second quarter and outscored the Kings 28-24. They also managed to stop turning the ball over and committed just two in the third. The game was wide open at this point.
The Spurs went cold again and the Kings pushed their lead back out to 10 about four minutes into the fourth. That was a little deflating but perhaps this woke the Spurs up, because Timmy knocked down a ridiculously tough banker, Kawhi converted an and-one and Tim hit a pair of free throws to cut it back down to three in about a minute of game time. Game on.
The two teams played tough and went back and forth, with the Spurs keeping the Kings within five for the next several possessions. Timmy and Boogie really battled down the stretch in this one and both players played well, but Boogie won tonight. Boogie received a nice call from the officials as Tim forced a miss. Tim was visibly upset after this call and the replay showed him touching a lot of ball. Tim got his revenge a couple of possessions later as he stole the ball from a driving Cousins and the Spurs scored on the other end. Cousins then took a Ginobili charge that disallowed a Duncan bucket.
Tony Parker, who was pretty quiet in the game to that point, stole the ball, made it down the court, and then knocked down a wing triple. One-point game. A beautiful feed from Timmy to Tony gave the Spurs their first lead of the half with 2:01 remaining in the game. This one was going down to the wire.
Popovich certainly wanted this one. He played Tim 34 minutes on a SEGABABA and had the big fella take Cousins down the stretch. Cousins and the Kings were just too tough in this one.
The final two minutes were pretty frustrating for Spurs fans. The Spurs played good defense down just one with a little over a minute left, but the Kings were awarded the ball out of bounds after a Leonard block and Omri Casspi took a shot that was so off that it got wedged between the rim and the backboard. Talk about luck. There were three Spurs to zero Kings on the left side of the floor, where the ball would have come off, and they certainly would have come up with the rebound, but instead, a jump ball followed. Rudy Gay gained possession, Darren Collison scored, Timmy missed in the lane and after a little interesting foul-game play, the Spurs were unable to pull out the victory.
It was a good, hard-fought win for the Kings and they're going to be a handful every night this season. Boogie's a beast, Gay's found a home and they play with heart. That's a winning combination.
Your Spurs fall to 5-4, which isn't bad considering their injuries and their tough schedule to start the season. In fact, how many of you had the Spurs going 3-1 on the road trip? Not many I'd bet. It would have been nice to see them pull this one out, but the Kings played tough and the good guys didn't have it on their fourth road game of the week.
They'll try again when they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night at 7:30 Spurs time.
43% - What the Spurs shot from the floor. It's also what the Spurs are shooting so far this season. I think we're all used to San Antonio shooting a bit better than that. I'm not worried, but it'd be nice to see them knock down more of their looks.
29% - What the Spurs shot from deep. The Spurs came into the game shooting 32% for the season and after shooting over 40% from three last season, this is just frustrating to watch. Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills being out has certainly contributed to the slow start. The shots will fall, but man, it sure would be nice if it happens soon.
0% - The Kings missed all 12 of their three-point attempts. They hit 50% of their twos. That, their very good free-throw shooting and the fact that they only gave the ball up nine times proved to be enough to beat the defending champs.
27 - Minutes played by DeMarcus Cousins while the other four Kings starters averaged 37 each in this one. DC ended up with five fouls, but because he didn't play a ton of minutes, he was fresh down the stretch and just about impossible to stop. I like Boogie, and tonight he finished with 25 and 10. In those limited minutes that is outstanding. He might not have a super traditional post game, but he's fun to watch and very, very effective down low.
14 - Turnovers by the Spurs. That's not too bad. Most nights that would be just fine, but the Kings turned those 14 into 17 points. On the other side, the Kings were careful and the Spurs were only able to score seven off of their nine TOs.
In Pop's words:
I think overall [The Kings] played a great defensive game. They were physical and executed well. They did a good job.
It's about 48 minutes, not the last minute.
Vine of the Night: