Slow starts are a thing now for the Spurs, and it’s not a good thing. The Kings scored the first nine points of the game and led by a dozen halfway through the quarter. The Spurs righted the ship by going inside and dominating the smaller Kings with their size and strength. Pau Gasol led the Spurs in scoring with 22 points.
The Spurs looked awful at the start of the game, and the hungry Kings took advantage as they got to every loose ball and hit their open shots. Pop let the Spurs starters try to figure it out, but after the Kings rushed to a 14-2 lead, he had to call timeout. The Spurs came back with more energy and a pair of quick steals from Patty Mills turned around the momentum as they led to 5 quick Spurs points. After one quarter, the Kings led 27-21.
Tony Parker led the Spurs in the second quarter as they pulled away from the Kings. TP was able to drive the ball to the basket and either lay it in or kick it out to an open teammate. Both Pau Gasol and Danny Green benefited from open looks at the three point line, but also Kawhi Leonard used his superior strength in the paint to get his midrange game going. The Spurs led 58-49 going into the locker room at the half.
The third quarter belonged to the Spurs, and Lamarcus Aldridge got open shots from distance and popped them through the net with his silky smooth shooting motion. Anthony Tolliver hit his shots for the Kings, but it wasn’t enough as Pau Gasol scored easily time after time. The Spurs led 99-74 after three. Kawhi Leonard, having played a big role in the Spurs turnaround in the second quarter, took a well-deserved rest for most of the second half.
The fourth quarter was extended garbage time as both coaches rested their starters for most of the quarter. The Kings were able to eat into the deficit a bit but never enough to entice Pop into bring the starters back into the game.
- Davis Bertans started the game with a small lineup of Parker, Green, Aldridge, and Leonard. It was a good opportunity for the Latvian, but I wonder if Pop was sending a message to Dedmon who seems to have gotten a little complacent since he took the starting role. He didn’t enter the game until the second quarter. But he started the second half and played well.
- Honestly, I thought the trade of Boogie Cousins for Buddy Hield was pretty awful, but he’s actually a pretty good player. I always think 4-year players are already pretty close to their ceilings when they enter the league, but Hield has already improved a lot since the first of the year. Cousins is still probably better player right now, but Hield will be a very good NBA player for a lot of years. Sacramento might have won that trade. And it looks like Skal Labissiere and Giorgios Papagiannis are pretty decent big men for them going forward.
- Sean Elliot is often criticized as a homer and just an ex-player but maybe it’s time he gets credit for how good he is at his job as a commentator. He’s very comfortable and funny at the microphone, but he’s also really knowledgeable about stats and players. When something happens on the court, he always understands the strategy and does a good job explaining things for the fans. If he weren’t commenting, he’d be a very good coach.
- Pau Gasol might be the best shooter on the Spurs, which is saying something. I never knew that part of his game, but he’s very skilled.
- It’s the Coyote’s birthday today. Since a dog (or coyote) ages 7 years for each one human year, he might be even older than me.
- Kyle Anderson quietly had another really good game. For a guy who has trouble getting playing time, he’s always ready to play good defense and hit key shots.
The Spurs start a series of nine games every other day, the next one being at the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night, and then returning home for a rematch against Marc Gasol, Z-Bo, and the Grizzlies on Thursday.