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San Antonio vs. Sacramento, Final Score: Spurs rally past Kings to clinch playoff berth, 98-85

It was a nail biter, but the role players came through to clinch the Spurs 21st straight playoff appearance.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

You can breathe again, Spurs fans. It took more than two-and-a-half quarters for the Spurs to realize it was desperation time, but after a horrid showing in the first half they managed to overcome a rare off night from LaMarcus Aldridge, who hit just 6-19 from the floor, and beat the Sacramento Kings to clinch their 21st straight playoff appearance.

Tremendous second-half efforts from Manu Ginobili (17), Rudy Gay (18), Bryn Forbes (11) and Patty Mills (15) brought the Spurs back from 14 down in the third quarter for a 98-85 win as they outscored the Kings 38-19 in the fourth quarter. Willie Cauley-Stein and De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 25 and 21 points, respectively.

Random Observations

  • The Spurs reportedly went through three different starting line-ups before settling on tonight’s, which featured Danny Green replacing Kyle Anderson. Why not go with your 25th different starting line-up on the 81st game of the season?
  • The Spurs did not bring the proper amount of respect for the Kings, particuarly in the first half. A lot of that is on the players, but the coaches can’t go blameless either, especially when the Spurs were all out of sorts from the get-go but Pop opted to just sit and watch most of the time instead of coach and get in his players’ ears. Did anyone tell him that regardless of the opponent, this about as close to a must-win as you can get?
  • The story of the first half was threes, with the Kings hitting 7-11, and the Spurs just 3-13. 6-10 from the FT line and shots constantly rolling out didn’t help the Spurs either. This tweet from J.R. Wilco summed up the first half pretty well:
  • Pop started the second half back with his small starting line-up, with Anderson replacing Pau Gasol. He must have also wanted a veteran presence running the show as he substituted Tony Parker in for Dejounte Murray after only a couple of minutes. It didn’t pay off immediately as the Kings got up by as much as 14, but the defense improved significantly from the first half, and the Spurs cut the lead to six at the end of the third quarter despite scoring only 17 points in the period.
  • Pop finally got fired up in the fourth quarter when the officials missed a goaltending call on a Gay lay-up attempt that should have been an and-one, but instead it was just two free throws. Also to their advantage: the Spurs were in the bonus just over four minutes into the quarter and ended the game with 12 more free throw attempts than the Kings.
  • What say you, Forbes haters? Davis Bertans got first crack at tenth man minutes and scored two points in six first-half minutes, but Bryn was a huge part of turning this game around with fearless shooting and solid defense to go along with those 11 points. He even played the entire fourth quarter.

For the Kings fans’ perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.

The Spurs will close out the regular season on Wednesday on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off will be 7:00 PM CT.