The Spurs went into Sacramento off a loss to the Utah Jazz hoping to end their three-game road trip on a high note before getting their first Christmas off in eight years. After averaging just 91 points in their previous two games, the Spurs rediscovered their offense on the way to a 108-99 win that never felt in doubt.
Without Kawhi Leonard (injury management) and Danny Green (groin), the arc was wide open for second-year guard Buddy Hield, who led the way for the Kings with 24 points on 4-7 from three. He played an especially big role in keeping the Kings in it in the second half every time the Spurs threatened to turn this one into a blowout.
Big man Willie Cauley-Stein also had a big night with a 22 point, 11 rebound double-double, but that wasn’t enough for the Kings to overcome to potent duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol and some classic Spurs offense. When both of the big men are on their game, the Spurs are nearly impossible to beat. Aldridge posted 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Gasol posted a triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Manu Ginobili and Dejounte Murray also contributed 15 and 13 points off the bench, respectively, and with 29 total assists it was more of what we expect from the Spurs than what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks, especially on the road. The Spurs improve to 23-11 overall and 8-9 on the road.
- Gasol’s triple-double was the tenth of his career. It was his first since March of 2016 when he played for the Chicago Bulls and the first for a Spur since Tim Duncan in December 2014.
- Rudy Gay returned to the scene of the crime and played on the court where he tore his Achilles tendon 11 months ago for the first time. Kings fans gave their former player a nice round of applause. Nerves may have played a role tonight as he was a non-factor for most of the game, but he did score 7 points in the fourth quarter to help keep his old team at bay.
- Although Manu is having a pretty awful shooting season by his standards, you just feel like every shot he takes at the buzzer is going in, be it a 30-foot heave or off-balance fade-away. None of his makes were buzzer-beaters tonight, but he still looked good regardless.
- Speaking of which, it was too bad Vince Carter didn’t play tonight. There’s nothing better than a little 40-on-40 action.
- It saddens me to see former Spur George Hill in this predicament. He left a playoff team in Utah under the promise that he and veterans like Carter and Zach Randolph would be the leaders of a group of young talent and would help lead the Kings back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 - the second-longest drought in the NBA. Unfortunately management change since then meant a change in approaches to this season, and he’s not happy about it.
- I just don’t like the three-second rule, offensive or defensive. I get why it’s in place, but I always feel like the refs have to take their attention off the action to call it and only do so when they feel like it because let’s face it: they could probably call it on a majority of possessions. Instead of a loss of possession for offense or technical for defense, I think it should work similar to a delay of game and just be a warning the first time. Thank you for reading Dubi’s Nightly Rule Change Suggestion.
For the Kings fans’ perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
The Spurs have the holidays off before returning to the AT&T Center to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. Tip-off will be at 7:30 PM CT.