The Spurs couldn't complete the comeback against the Kings in their first preseason game and lost in Sacramento 95-92. Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio in scoring with 16 points in just 22 minutes while LaMarcus Aldridge struggled in his first game wearing Silver and Black, finishing the night with eight points in 10 shots. Rudy Gay led the way for the Kings on offense with 26 points while former Spur Marco Belinelli had 19.
It's so tempting to extrapolate how the season will go from the first game this iteration of the Spurs has appeared on but obviously it would be silly to do so. Not only was it just a preseason game but four rotation players and the coach were absent. Youssou Ndoye got 12 minutes. If you want context, earlier today someone named Jared Cunningham scored 31 for the Cavaliers. There's not a lot to take away from these games, is the point
That being said, some of the things we were looking forward to seeing and some of the things we knew would need work were apparent early on.
The Spurs started Patty Mills, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, David West and LaMarcus Aldridge. Without a perimeter playmaker, the offense was slow and predictable. Even after adjusting my expectations for typical preseason sloppiness the start was ugly. It was obvious some of these guys had never played with each other. The Kings were not much better but this was their third preseason game and their rotation was shorter, which clearly gave them an advantage.
After a close first half Sacramento took control in the third quarter behind good performances by DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. The Spurs' offense completely disappeared in the second half of the period. After being tied at 62 with 5:23 to go, the Kings closed the frame on a 16-5 run to go the final quarter with an 11-point lead.
To their credit, the Spurs didn't give up. Kyle Anderson spearheaded the comeback attempt with 11 fourth-quarter points and San Antonio had a chance to send the game to overtime. The deficit was three and the Spurs had the ball with 12 seconds to go after a couple of Marco Belinelli free throws but Reggie Williams couldn't get open and had to launch a contested three-pointer that missed.
The Spurs played poorly and lost, which would be worrisome if not for the fact that no one keeps track of preseason Ls and Ws.
- LaMarcus Aldridge missed some of those patented turnaround jump shots on Thursday and couldn't really get a rhythm going with his teammates. A lack of chemistry this early into his Spurs' tenure is understandable, so the 3-for-10 shooting night is nothing to worry about. He did a solid job on DeMarcus Cousins when the had to guard him, so that's definitely a positive. Not the best debut for Aldridge but not the worst either.
- The same could be said of newcomers David West and Ray McCallum. West missed a couple of mid-range shots he typically makes but gave some hard fouls and moved the ball. McCallum had some unforced errors that resulted in three turnovers but connected on a couple of three-pointers.
- Rasual Butler wants a job. The 36-year-old journeyman showed off his outside shot (2-for-2 from beyond the arc) and generally played with urgency in a game in which not a lot of players did. He stayed in his lane and did what he's supposed to do but that might be enough to get him serious consideration for the 15th spot.
- Butler's solid performance shines brighter when contrasted with Jimmer Fredette's clunker of a night. Jimmer went 0-for-4 from the field, had a couple of bad passes and couldn't guard anyone on defense. He will get other chances to show his worth, which is good because he didn't make the most of this opportunity. Maybe there's something about playing in Sacramento that messes with his head. Who knows.
- The rotation players from last season (Patty Mills, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green) did well. These games are not really about them at all but no one looked out of shape or anything like that, which is all we can ask this early into their preparation for the season.
- Boban Marjanovic checked in and almost immediately got called for a technical for battling Cousins for position. Bobby is enormous and will likely see a ton of bad calls go against him his rookie year, not unlike fellow giant Yao Ming. As for his actual performance, he wasn't attacked by the Kings' guards on pick and rolls, so we don't really know how well he'll fare during the regular season.
- Kyle Anderson has great touch from mid-range and punished the Kings whenever he had a smaller player on him, just like he did against pretty much every opponent in Summer League. His Vegas buddy Jonathon Simmons struggled scoring but contributed five rebounds and four assists. We will not know how they fit in the rotation until later in preseason, when they actually share the court with players that will be on the roster on opening night, but it was a good start of the year, especially for Anderson.
The Spurs will play the Heat in Miami on Monday.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Sactown Royalty