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San Antonio vs. Sacramento, Final Score: Spurs struggle against shorthanded Kings in 121-114 loss

A slow defensive start doomed the Silver and Black despite big performances from Walker and Forbes off the bench

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs couldn’t ride the momentum of Friday’s thrilling 128-126 win over the Utah Jazz, suffering a disappointing loss to the shorthanded Sacramento Kings on Sunday, 121-114.

Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. He was one of five players to finish with double-digit points, joining Lonnie Walker IV with 19, Bryn Forbes with 18, Keldon Johnson with 16 and Devin Vassell with 11.

The shorthanded Kings had three 20-point scorers in Buddy Hield (29 points, 7-9 3PT) Tyrese Haliburton (27 points, 11 assists) and Damian Jones (23 points, 8 rebounds).

Observations

  • The Kings have been hit hard by the COVID-19 health and safety protocols — Marvin Bagley III, Terence Davis, De’Aaron Fox, Louis King, Alex Len and Davion Mitchell were all ruled out for Sunday’s game. So was interim head coach Alvin Gentry, leaving Doug Christie (interim interim head coach?) to take the helm. On an unrelated note, Richaun Holmes was sidelined with a lacerated right eye. Things are looking up in Sacramento.
  • The Spurs had two players out in Zach Collins, still coming back from a fractured left foot, and Doug McDermott, who has a tooth infection. Brush your teeth, kids.
  • With Holmes and Fox out, the Kings have used a starting lineup of Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Chimezie Metu (former Spur!) and Tristan Thompson. As Sean Elliott pointed out on the broadcast, it’s not all that terrible. All five players had double-digit points in a loss to Memphis on Friday.
  • San Antonio didn’t have much trouble getting good looks from beyond the arc early on, especially against Sacramento’s double-big lineup, though, the team missed its first four 3s.
  • The Spurs didn’t put up much resistance defensively in the first quarter. The Kings made three of their first four treys, got to the free throw line regularly and opened up a 25-15 lead seven and a half minutes in. They would’ve been even farther behind had Lonnie Walker IV not come off the bench with guns blazing.
  • A Jock Landale sighting! The Aussie helped open things up offensively — he canned a triple from the left wing, earned a trip to the free throw line while Haliburton was guarding him in the post and grabbed an offensive rebound. But Sacramento definitely got after him on defense, especially in pick-and-rolls. If he’s going to get more playing time, that’s something he’ll have to prove he can handle. A buzzer-beating corner 3 from Harrison Barnes gave the Kings a 37-27 lead at the end of the first quarter.
  • Some good Keita Bates-Diop minutes to start the second. He hit a 3-pointer from the right corner on San Antonio’s opening possession. He rejected a layup from Justin Robinson, got the defensive rebound, stayed inbound and dished it to Dejounte Murray, who went to the free throw line on the other end. Jakob sent him a pocket pass after an offensive rebound, which KBD dunked in. Sacramento’s lead went from 10 to eight while he was on the floor.
  • Lonnie’s by far been the best player for the Spurs tonight. That game-winner over Gobert on Friday had to have worked wonders on his confidence — he’s not missing much.
  • Update: Landale’s already hit his season-high in minutes late in the second quarter. He’s up to five points, two rebounds and a steal, but the Kings are still hunting him when he’s on defense just about every possession with a lot of success.
  • Derrick White seems like he’s asleep at the wheel tonight. Two points off 1-5, one rebound, one steal and a plus-minus of negative-15 at the half. He’s literally been outplayed by Bryn Forbes, who closed the second quarter instead of him and has 10 points. Devin Vassell hasn’t been any better, he’s just played left. It’s tough to win any game when two of your starters aren’t making an impact.
  • Murray hit back-to-back layups to start the third quarter, taking the lead down to 63-60. He’s now the third player with double-digit points, joining Walker and Forbes. A dime to Devin Vassell made it a one-point game and forced Sacramento to call the first timeout of the half.
  • Forget everything I said before about Derrick White. He made up for the awful first half by saving Jakob Poeltl’s life — blocking a gimme dunk from Tristan Thompson with Poeltl sitting on the floor. The block led to a dunk from Keldon Johnson on the fast break, giving San Antonio its first lead since the very first possession of the game at 69-67.
  • Pop turned to Drew Eubanks instead of Landale when Poeltl went to the bench in the third quarter. It’s an understandable decision with Eubanks being the better defensive option. The Kings still took advantage of the Spurs resting most of their starters to end the third quarter, going back up 91-85.
  • The Kings came out hot in the fourth, hitting 8-11 midway through, including a pair of triples from Buddy Hield. It put the Spurs down 109-99 and they were never able to recover (Hield hit another two 3s), losing 121-114. You have to think how different the game would look had San Antonio not come out slow. For a team that’s dwelled in at the bottom of the Western Conference standings all year, the Spurs can’t afford to overlook anybody — even an opponent that’s missing half its roster and its head coach.

For the Kings fans’ perspective, please visit Sactown Royalty.

The Spurs are headed to Los Angeles and get right back in the saddle tomorrow against the Clippers. Tip-off will be at 9:30 PM CT on Bally Sports SW-SA.