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What we learned from the Spurs win over the Kings

San Antonio had a white-hot hand as they kicked off a two-game homestand at the AT&T Center.

Sacramento Kings v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

San Antonio completely decimated the Kings from end to end behind a scorching shooting display that saw them bury a season-high 18 three-pointers on their way to a season-high 136 points. The Spurs immediately jumped out to a double-digit lead, and this time, they never looked back.

Dejounte Murray dropped a season-high 26 points along with six boards, seven assists, and two steals. And he received plenty of help as six other Spurs, including Doug McDermott, Drew Eubanks, Devin Vassell, Bryn Forbes, Thaddeus Young, and Lonnie Walker IV, pitched in at least 15 points.

The Spurs visibly brought more energy than Sacramento from the tip-off, and their motion-heavy offense ran the Kings ragged for 48 minutes as they hunted for high-percentage looks. While it wasn’t a flawless performance by any means, San Antonio put away a beatable opponent, and that’s an encouraging step in the right direction.

The Silver and Black have now inched closer into play-in game territory, sitting just a half-game outside of tenth place in the Western Conference. They still have tons of ground to make up, but at the very least, they have put a little distance between themselves and the bottom of the standings.

The NBA is a shooters league, and the Spurs shot the lights out

Sometimes you’re good, sometimes you’re lucky, and San Antonio was a bit of both on Wednesday night. As mentioned in the intro, the Spurs hit a season-high 18 triples at a staggering 56.2% clip, which was an anomaly for a team that entered the evening last in the league in three-pointers and 24th in three-point percentage.

Seven different Spurs drained a three, led by five from Devin Vassell, four from Doug McDermott, and three from Byrn Forbes. Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV chipped in a pair of threes, and first-year swingman Joe Wieskamp knocked down a long-distance jumper off the back iron for the first points of his NBA career.

The Silver and Black hosted a three-point party inside the AT&T Center, and Sacramento was omitted from the guest list as their massive shooting slump put them behind the eight-ball from the start. The Kings tossed up 36 threes but frequently misfired as sharpshooters Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Davion Mitchell went 4-of-21 from the outside.

San Antonio walking away with a dub is less than surprising. If you shoot 21.8% above league average from downtown while your opponent doesn’t sniff 30% from the perimeter, you’re probably going to win nine times out of ten. The Spurs have a date with the Mavericks on Friday and a chance to prove this wasn’t an outlier performance.

San Antonio comes and goes as Dejounte Murray sinks or swims

Here’s an intriguing stat for you, the Spurs are 3-2 when Dejounte Murray hits at least 50% of his shots as 1-5 when he fails to reach that mark. San Antonio has leaned on their sixth-year guard to do a bit of everything for them, and as a result, Murray leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, deflections, shots, and minutes this season.

Dejounte scored a season-high 26 points on 52.4% shooting from the field against Sacramento, and would you look at that, the Silver and Black won the game. The rest of the roster putting on a dazzling display from three-point land undoubtedly helped, but the 25-year-old floor general almost always sets the tone that decides the outcome.

The Silver and Black must clean things on the defensive end

Although the Spurs emerged with their second blowout win of the season, they were far from perfect, especially on the defensive end. A disgruntled head coach Gregg Popovich called a handful of timeouts in response to several miscommunications, uncontested shots, backdoor cuts, and missed rotations.

San Antonio allowed the Kings to shoot 37-of-56 (66.1%) inside the three-point line, and they were fortunate that Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes were so uncharacteristically out of form from long distance. Had Sacramento even been halfway decent on the perimeter, there’s a strong chance this game could have turned out a lot differently for the Silver and Black.

As you might expect, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Devin Vassell weren’t part of the problem, but three elite perimeter stoppers can’t cover for everyone else. San Antonio knew what they signed up for when they brought in Bryn Forbes and Doug McDermott this summer, and their three-point shooting mostly makes up for the defensive deficiencies.

With that said, the Spurs were probably hoping for more out of youngsters like Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV. The pair of 22-year-old wings have all the athletic tools in the world, but they’re still working to understand the finer details of team-oriented defensive concepts. Thankfully, they have Murray, White, and veteran Thaddeus Young in their ears to help bring them along.