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Rehash: The Spurs start by building small

The losing streak is over, and the seeds of a Spurs resurgence were sown in Sacramento.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Go ahead and be giddy. For being the defending champions, the past few months haven't left all that much for Spurs fans to be overtly joyous about. But don't be thrilled with the fact that the Spurs simply won, or that they won in California, or that they won by double digits (this was, after all, a win over a 20-36 team without their best player). Be thrilled because the Spurs looked engaged, played really solid defense for most of the game, showed passion, showed progress, and most of all...because they can be MUCH better. Any win where you shoot below 40% from the field and 35% from deep is a treat.

The Kings started out a little bit ridiculously. It was déjà vu as opposing players were hitting shots against the Spurs that they had no business to, but with the added incredulity that the shooters were guys like Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum instead of Steph Curry or Wesley Matthews.

The first quarter looked ominous, as the Spurs were outscored 25-20 with a potential 5-game losing streak on the line. But the Kings scored 20 points in the first 6 minutes of the quarter and only 5 in the last 6 minutes in some combination of the Spurs realizing they can be a very good defensive team when they want, Cory Joseph, and a statistical regression to the mean.

The 2nd quarter was a pretty even battle until the final 4 minutes when the Spurs went on a 18-5 run (18-7 with McElmore's buzzer beater) that saw them retake the lead for the first time since the score was 8-7. This was an exciting sign, but as we saw against the Blazers: a great second quarter is only as good as the daunting third will allow.

By this season's meager standards, the Spurs only being outscored by 1 in the third was an outright success. They allowed 32 points (again, to a Cousins-less Kings) but scored 31, ultimately leading by two. After hitting their first two shots from deep, the Spurs went 1-for-7. This very well may've been related to Danny Green having 4 fouls in 5 minutes like he was the only one running the hack-a-someone defense.

The fourth quarter didn’t start perfectly, the Spurs’ first 8 possessions were: DG3 turnover, DG3 miss, Boris miss, DG3 miss, DG3 turnover, TP miss, Banger miss, Kawhi miss. Then at the around the 8:30 mark, something magical happened. After the Kings made two free throws to tie the game at 80, the Spurs went on a 27-12 run led by two slumping Frenchmen and an over-the-hill Argentine (with a bit of promising future franchise player thrown in for good measure). At the conclusion of this seven-minute run, the cleanup crew was sent in by Popovich with the recently unfamiliar role of seeing out a substantial lead.

More importantly, Tony and Manu got to head to the bench with smiles and a knowledge of a job well done. That is the type of emotion that can be planted, watered, harvested, and turned into something substantial. We'll see if the recently slumping Spurs can build off the end of game momentum into the team we all know they can be.

Quote of the Night

"That was huge for us. That was huge for him."

- Duncan on Tony Parker's game and confidence going forward

Odds and Ends

In the second half, Parker scored 17 of his 19 and Ginobili scored 11 of his 16. It's really reassuring to see guys with a combined age of 69 who played a combined 50 minutes finishing strong.

The Spurs only shot 35-88, but got a few difficult-to-circus shots to fall. You have to shake off paradoxical shooting nights, the same way you do when the opponent hits 6 well-contested shots in succession. The shots will eventually start falling.

Seven players scored at least 8 points for the Spurs, with all of the Big-4 (yes, it's beyond time to expand) in double digits.

Game MVP

Tiago Splitter.

Most people will leave talking about Tony Parker, and what a 2nd half it was, but Tiago Splitter had been just as M.I.A. in 2015. Popovich put him in the starting lineup to deal with the force that is Boogie Cousins, but didn't change when Cousins was ruled out. That vote of confidence sparked something in the Brazilian who, despite the box score, was a huge presence in this game and controlled the paint/rim better than he has all season. (6 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks is incredibly misleading).

Game LVP


Screw cancer. It was his fourth game back, but seeing Geroge Karl coaching again and remembering his bouts with prostate, throat, and neck cancer was an inspiration. He is getting to do the thing that he loves, hopefully serving as an inspiration for the life that is on the other side of the awful, painful, difficult disease.

Numbers Game

26. The Spurs bench outscored the Kings 45-19.

2. Two points in 14 first half minutes for Parker.

  • 1Q: 2 points, 1/2 FG
  • 2Q: 0 points, 0/3 FG

17. 17 points in 16 2nd half minutes.

  • 3Q: 6 points, 2/4 FG
  • 4Q: 11 points, 4/7 FG

0. No turnovers for Parker in 30 minutes. Only 5 for the entire game. (Which make Danny Green's 3-in-12 minutes all the more impressive)

Internet Watercooler

Before we get to the Spurs, let's take a second to appreciate the crazy genius of:

Half Jack, half Benjamin Button.

(This was pre-4th quarter)

...And then almost got drafted over him (even if almost was only a 60-second slice of time. It exists)

This is a meme I'd like to see happen.