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Recap: Spurs pull away in 4th, beat Kings 106-88

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The Sacramento Kings are improved this year with the addition of Rajon Rondo, Willie Cauley-Stein and Marco Belinelli, but the San Antonio Spurs wore them down by playing even for three quarters and then pulled away with a great display of Spurs basketball in the fourth quarter, led by Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings are much improved this year, with the addition of Rajon Rondo, Willie Cauley-Stein and former Spur Marco Belinelli.  DeMarcus Cousins has a lot more talent around him than he has had in previous seasons, although the Kings have only won one game this season. With Cousins returning from a strained Achilles tendon injury, the Kings were at full strength tonight and were prepared to play well against the Spurs.

Tim Duncan, as he somehow always seems to do, defied the laws of physics on the opening tip, deflecting the ball away from a much bigger and stronger DeMarcus Cousins into the hands of Tony Parker.  Tony took the ball into the teeth of the Kings defense and got whacked on the head, but somehow got the ball out to a wide open Kawhi Leonard who sank a three point shot.  Luckily for the Spurs, Tony was OK, and he got back into the play quickly. The first quarter was a pretty even affair, as the two sides traded baskets.

For some reason, LaMarcus Aldridge didn't see the ball on offense at all in the first few minutes of the quarter, but with about five minutes left, his teammates started to find him and after a few misses, he made two quick baskets.  Rajon Rondo was active for the Kings and hit a few clutch shots. Marco Belinelli showed his worth to his new team by getting open and passing the ball.

The Spurs started the second quarter with the same bench players they had ended the first with. The bench didn't dominate the game like they have been doing but the were able to pull ahead of Sactown with timely shooting and rebounding.  Marco Belinelli hit some threes and showed his value with quick cuts and an even quicker release. DeMarcus Cousins was frustrated by the Spurs defense and practically charged the referees after getting called for an offensive foul with 3:32 left in the quarter. It was only a matter of time before he got a technical, and it happened with 13 seconds left when he argued the call on a foul when he tried to swat the ball away from Manu Ginobili. The Spurs were up at the half 49-43.

As the third quarter started, LaMarcus Aldridge picked up three fouls in quick succession.  As it turned out, he didn't get into foul trouble, but the Kings took advantage of the Spurs fouls, they were in the penalty for the last seven minutes of the quarter, and DeMarcus Cousins took 12 free throws in the quarter. The good guys had a couple of good runs in the quarter, but the Kings were able to slow things down and reduce the gap at the free throw line, and the score was 72-69 in favor of the Spurs at the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter belonged to the silver and black, as they stepped up the defense and demoralized the Kings so badly that they didn't even bother to get back on defense after a few steals. Rajon Rondo, forced to play the entire game due to lack of depth at point guard, had to play all 48 minutes and seemed worn out by the end of the game. Patty Mills, who hadn't been hitting shots for most of the game, got hot and drained a few threes.  By the time that Patty Mills stole the ball from Cousins with 3:28 left the rout was on which ushered the favorite time of the game for Spurs fans, the time that Boban Marjanovic comes out to play. Boban didn't disappoint, he put down a thunderous dunk with 1:51 left on an assist from Rasual Butler.

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Player of the game:

Kawhi Leonard.  His offensive game is pretty much unstoppable now, if he's ever single covered, he will simply take his time and destroy his defender with a variety of moves. On defense, he can make it impossible for his man to dribble the ball, and if they try to shoot, he can send it back. He's an all star, no question.

Random Observations:

  • Kyle Anderson is really hustling on defense and he played pretty well tonight, getting blocks and steals, using his length. The play where he got called for goaltending was actually a block where he hustled back to prevent a fast break basket. It looked early in the season like the Spurs might be hurting for wing depth, but both he and Rasual Butler are contributing when they're called upon. Rasual is shooting a little better than Kyle right now so it's going to be interesting which one of the two end up getting more time on the floor. The effort level from both players was great this game.
  • Kawhi Leonard has really improved his interview game. In his first year, he seemed really uncomfortable on camera, but after the game, he gave a nice interview with Sean Elliot and Bill Land and talked at length about the game. One thing the said was interesting: he doesn't watch film of his opponents because the Spurs play a different defense than other NBA teams so that he wouldn't learn much by watching how they play against another team.
  • Rudy Gay is an enigma. The guy seems to have all the talent in the world, but it doesn't translate into a positive for his team. He does take bad shots, but I thought with George Karl coaching, his shot selection might improve. All I can say about that is -- not yet.
  • Tim Duncan isn't on the floor as much this year as much as he was last year, but he's still incredible.  He had the assist of the game by grabbing a loose ball of the floor and somehow flipping it up to Kawhi Leonard for a wide open dunk. He's still the greatest.
  • Patty Mills didn't have a great night shooting the ball, but he was a pest on defense and had several good assists.  He's a pretty damn good option as a backup point guard.
  • Marco Belinelli is a great addition to the Kings. His movement without the ball and quick release makes him a valuable contributor on offense. He's still not great on defense, but he's a great scoring threat coming off the bench for them. He was their second best player tonight.

Next game:

Spurs play at the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, November 11, at 9:30 PM CT. It will be time for Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge to catch up with some old friends and for the Spurs to hopefully add one more game to the win column.