The Spurs' looked to avoid a five-game losing streak tonight in Sacramento as we approach the end of the annual Rodeo Road Trip. As strange as this season has been for the Spurs, we need to count our blessings when realizing how chaotic it's been for the Kings. With the firing of coaches, the obvious incompetence of an owner and untimely injuries, it's been a difficult season for Sacramento. Luckily for Kings fans though, it looks like they finally have a stable coach in George Karl.
Speaking of injuries, the Kings' all-star and debatably the best center in the league, Demarcus Cousins, sat out tonight with both a sprained left ankle and a bruised left hip. While injuries are always disappointing no matter what team you root for, it was especially rough for the Kings as they were coming off of an impressive win against Memphis Wednesday night, while the Spurs were coming off of another disappointing road loss against Portland.
The game started off with the Kings quickly doubling up the Spurs and leading 20-10 halfway through the first quarter. Sacramento really wanted to push the pace, while the Spurs were looking to move the ball and still struggled to knock down open shots. San Antonio started off a measly 5/13, while Sacramento hit nine of their first 13. Strangely enough though, I'm beginning to find five-point first quarter deficits an "ok start" for the Spurs.
At the half, the Spurs had shot 33.3% from the field (15/45), only dished out six assists, and were out-rebounded 29 to 20. The Kings played aggressive basketball, but San Antonio led the Cousins-less Kings 49-46 at halftime thanks to a late 2nd quarter surge. Kawhi Leonard led all Spurs with at the break with 13, two of them coming from this wild, Jordan-like flip:
Then came the dreaded third quarter.... (cue dramatic music)
Oh... Wait... This third quarter wasn't a complete disaster. It wasn't the prettiest quarter of Spurs basketball I've ever seen, but San Antonio started with the lead and were actually able to hold onto it. That's a really good thing and something that we haven't seen in some time. Kawhi Leonard stayed aggressive on offense, the Spurs knocked down some shots and did their best to lock down defensively.
A high scoring third quarter (63 combined points) for both teams gave the Spurs an 80-78 lead going into the fourth. The Kings were able to keep the game close for the first half of the fourth quarter, with strong play from Ray McCallum, Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore preventing the Spurs from running away with the game, and Sacramento trailed by just three after a Ray McCallum bucket brought the score to 89-86. The Spurs found the switch and turned it on with Boris Diaw knocking down a jumper, Manu being Manu and the real Tony Parker making an appearance.
An 18-6 run, with TP finding some of the fourth quarter excellence we've come to expect from him on his way to nine of those 18 points, put the game away for the Spurs.
The Spurs put an end to that terrible four-game losing streak by taking care of business in the Sleep Train Arena. This should be a reassuring win for Spurs fans everywhere. Although it's all relative to how poorly San Antonio has been playing, the Spurs consistently looked like they were present and gave a reasonable effort throughout the whole game. The best part is that they ended the game with a solid surge where they've struggled recently.
Tony Parker looked like a completely different Tony Parker than the impostor we've seen lately and while it's just one game, it's a step in the right direction as we approach the last quarter of the regular season. I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, but let's hope that something has indeed begun to click for San Antonio.
Your Spurs improve to 35-23 for the season and 3-5 on the RRT. Let's hope the team can build off of their victory.
- The Spurs committed just six turnovers tonight. It was a much cleaner game than what we've witnessed lately. Let's hope the team can keep the give-aways down consistently.
- The Spurs are now 32-4 when leading at the end of the third quarter. The Spurs lost this third quarter, but it was just by one. Here's to more solid third quarter efforts.
- San Antonio held the Kings to 1-of-4 shooting from three for the entire game and forced 17 turnovers. It seems unlikely that the Spurs have lost a game over the past four years where they held their opponent to just one three and won the turnover battle by 11
- Tony Parker finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists and he showed aggressiveness in the fourth quarter that I haven't seen from him in a long time. Pop has been quoted saying that Parker's issues have been due to a lack of confidence, so I'm hoping it was a huge confidence booster for him.
Spurs travel to Phoenix to finish out the Rodeo Road Trip on a SEGABABA.