What promises to be an extremely tough Rodeo Road Trip didn’t get off to the best start, with the Spurs dropping their opener 127-112 to the upstart Sacramento Kings, ending their 5-game winning streak. Already short Derrick White to a case of plantar fasciitis, poor first and third quarters doomed the Silver and Black in this one as they couldn’t keep up with the speedy Kings or get their threes to fall.
DeMar DeRozan’s offensive game returned as he posted 24 points on 10-15 shooting, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 9 rebounds. Marvin Bagley III led the Kings with 24 off the bench, followed by 20 points from De’Aaron Fox.
- It’s crazy seeing how Dave Joerger has transitioned from coaching the best of the grit-and-grind Grizzlies to turning the Kings into a quick, pace-and-space team on the rise after nearly a decade-and-a-half of turmoil. It says a lot about his versatility as a coach and his ability to adapt to his personnel.
- The game plan against the Kings is always to get back in transition, even after a made basket. The Spurs did a horrible job of that in the first quarter, getting outscored 20-0 on the fast break, allowing 7-11 from three, and a 25-9 run to close the quarter with little defensive resistance. It almost felt like a miracle that the Spurs were “only” down 37-25.
- Maybe losing White for who-knows-how-long (hopefully not too long, his defense was sorely missed tonight) was the wake-up call DeRozan’s game needed. Back in his early-season role as the main ball handler, he was aggressive with the ball and schooling his defender to create looks.
- Another hilarious moment for “The Challenge”: neither Matt Bonner or Sean Elliott could name the Cleveland Browns as a team that has never made the Super Bowl. I could have told them that, and I literally have zero interest in the NFL whatsoever.
- After that disastrous first quarter, the Spurs clamped down on defense and forced the Kings to play at their pace for the next quarter-and-a-half. The Kings didn’t have any fast-break points in the second quarter, while the Spurs made up ground on the glass with 20 second-chance points the the Kings’ 8. The Spurs managed to catch up and even retake the lead briefly in the second and third quarters, but the Kings woke back up and pulled away in the fourth.
- I can’t even pretend to know what Pop is doing with Jakob Poeltl and Pau Gasol right now. In each of Aldridge’s rest periods, Pop split the time between the two of them. I guess it’s a free-for-all right now, and it’s someone’s job to earn the back-up center minutes. Neither really out-shined the other until Poeltl had a nice stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters, but it’s hard to get in a rhythm in such short spurts, plus it’s certainly no help to the rest of the players on the court when they have to adjust so often to two contrasting styles.
- It isn’t an NBA game if Davis Bertans doesn’t get smacked in the head at some point. This time he got slapped in the mouth by Harry Giles, drawing an offensive foul late in third.
- Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills, and Marco Belinelli combined for just 5-22 from three tonight. The defense is primarily at fault for this loss, but if one or two of those guys is their usual selves from three, this is a different ballgame late.
- It may not matter in the long run, but because these two teams only play three times this season, and the Spurs have lost the first two in Sacramento, the Kings now have the tie-breaker in the standings should they end up with matching records. As things stand now, the Kings are two games back in the loss column.
For the Kings fans’ perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
The Spurs continue the first leg of the RRT at Golden State on Wednesday. Tip-off will be at 9:30 PM CT on ESPN and KENS 5.