The Spurs were shorthanded tonight against the Kings, suiting up without Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Danny Green. David West, Jonathon Simmons, and Boris Diaw all slid into the starting line-up in their place. San Antonio got off to a relatively sloppy start offensively, with three turnovers in the first three minutes, but West had the hot hand early on and contributed seven of the Spurs' first nine points.
Coach Pop earned himself a technical about midway through the first, but it was overshadowed by Manu Ginobili making his triumphant return. The crowd gave Manu a standing ovation as the technical free throw was taken. He nailed his first triple of the game, which Sean Elliot appropriately dubbed his "Welcome Back Shot". The Spurs had a 29-22 lead after one.
The Spurs built up a double digit lead, but Quincy Acy was taking advantage of the Spurs lack of size inside. He had 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting in 12 minutes on the floor. The Kings tied the game at 41 with five minutes to go. Kawhi Leonard was relatively quiet in the half, but some timely threes from Patty Mills and Boris Diaw built the lead back up. Boban Marjanovic helped contain DeMarcus Cousins on the glass, though he was a tad too slow to keep up with Boogie with the ball. It appeared that Pop had him in the game with the intention of him having fouls to burn, so he didn't let Cousins get anything easy.
San Antonio had a 57-54 lead at the break after a three from Rajon Rondo to end the first half. Despite shooting 3-for-11, Leonard had 10 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists, while David West lead the way with 12.
Kawhi scored nine points of a 12-0 run to start the third quarter and the Spurs quickly had a 15 point lead. Kawhi and Manu both had a fantastic third quarter. Manu in his return exploded for 22 points in just 15 minutes, while Kawhi had 21 through three. The Spurs had an 86-67 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Spurs seemed to be doing everything right in the second half. The ball was moving and it was leading to easy lay-ups (or dunks for Boban) and open jumpers. Andre Miller was able to get some significant time in the fourth quarter as well.
The Kings didn't throw in the towel, though, and and ended up cutting their deficit to just nine with four minutes to go. It forced Kawhi to stay in the game to ensure that it wouldn't get dangerously close. The Spurs held off the Kings attempt at a comeback and earned the victory to stay perfect at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs won 104-94 despite missing three starters, and improved to 53-9. Kawhi finished with 25, 13, and six, while Cousins lead the Kings with 31 and nine.