The Sacramento Kings impressively took the first of this home-and-home series behind an endless barrage of 3-pointers and decided advantage in transition execution in its fitfh straight victory.
Kings guard and Western Conference Player of the Week De’Aaron Fox provided a steady hand (24 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals), while Buddy Hield (20 points) and Tyrese Haliburton (15 points and 10 assists) supported him in a balanced scoring effort for the visitors.
San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray (23 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists) and Jakob Poeltl (17 points and 11 rebounds) provided much of the early firepower, and DeMar DeRozan supplied much of the spark in the second half (17 points and 8 assists). However, the defense was unable to collect many meaningful stops at crucial points throughout. The Spurs fell to 1-4 in its homestand.
- In case you haven’t read it, this is the definitive commemoration of LaMarcus Aldridge’s time in San Antonio.
- There haven’t been any murmurs from the fanbase about the selection of Devin Vassell over Kings’ rookie Tyrese Haliburton, but he seems to have carved out a comfortable spot in Sacramento’s rotation as a secondary playmaker to Fox and hastened the departure of Bogdan Bogdanovic.
- Jakob Poeltl made life difficult on Sacramento’s guards at the rim early on with three blocks and five rebounds. But it warrants asking: the shooting form on Poeltl’s a) free throw form or b) the pick-and-pop outside the paint? <clenched teeth emoji>
- Based on Gorgui Dieng’s statements to reporters earlier today, it appears he would make the quintessential Spur - stating “I am defensive-minded and I can shoot threes. I feel good. I don’t have an issue. I am a role player and, in fact, I would say I am here to serve the team. Whatever way the coach wants to use me to help the team, I am willing to do it.”
- Derrick White is so masterful at coming around the pick and biding his time to see what the defense displays for him. Midway through the first quarter, he strung out two Kings defenders for several seconds before getting a gliding layup.
- Sequence of the Game: Late in the first quarter, Vassell blocked a Kings’ entry pass into the post, and Poeltl followed Devin’s layup attempt in transition with a Jak Jam.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Keldon channeled his inner destructive Charles Barkley early in the third period, snaring a rebound in traffic and taking it by himself to the other end and tipped home his errant layup. He will learn how to nab points here and there on these sorts of transition runs.
- In an ‘homage’ to his astronomical growth, Murray now occupies the prime space across from DeRozan on Homage’s NBA Jam-themed t-shirts for each team.
- Though it’s been a short time since the 2018 draft, #2 pick Marvin Bagley III career path (in comparison to #3 pick Luka Doncic) may eventually mirror that of oft-injured and unlucky center Sam Bowie’s in the long shadow of MIchael Jordan’s all-time career.
- Harrison Barnes has come a very long way from being the targeted member of the Warriors’ roster to hide Tony Parker on in their 2013 conference semifinal series.
- Seeing Houston, Baylor, and Arkansas in the Elite 8 reminds me of the old Southwest Conference days of domination in the 80s.
- In an electric first half of the opening stanza, Murray connected on his first five attempts and Poeltl continued his impressive two-way play to help the Spurs get ahead. Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes shot well from behind the arc and, combined with some sloppy play by San Antonio, allowed the Kings to briefly re-claim the lead in the final minute. Murray helped right the ship with a tip-in and finding Vassell for a corner three to push the home team to a 31-27 lead after one.
- Sacramento’s bench helped the visitors surge into the lead at the start of the second with former Spur Chimezie Metu connecting on two long jumpers. Murray continued to dazzle from the field, regardless of any Kings defender assigned to him, to keep San Antonio close. Even as Murray passed the 20-point mark late, Sacramento took advantage of the Spurs’ propensity to lag in transition to push the lead briefly to eight. Patty Mills’ first three of the night along with a pull-up by DeRozan shaved the deficit to two. A steal by White and what should have been a three point play on his transition layup tied the game at 60.
- To add insulit to injury, a very questionable coach’s challenge by Sacramento on what appeared to be a charge on Fox (and his third foul) ended up being overturned, and the Kings scurried away with three free points. This unfortunate sequence resulted in the Kings heading into the break on an 8-0 run.
- Sacramento continued its offensive clinic - running the lead into double digits to start the second half. Haliburton asserted himself with several scoop shots and distributing to the Kings’ bigs, while Hield peppered the nets from all over the court. Johnson also turned on his aggressiveness to net several free throw attempts and slow down Sacramento’s transition game. It seemed like every Spurs 2-point score was countered by a Kings three. Hield somehow snagged a rebound in between two Spurs and nailed a fadeaway three in the corner. At one point, Sacramento’s starters (71) only trailed the Spurs’ entire output (76) by five. A knifing reverse and-1 and pull-up by DeRozan ignited a 15-2 run to end the frame and send San Antonio to the fourth somehow down only six.
- Rudy Gay paired a wing three and a lob to a diving Eubanks, but Sacramento’s shooting kept the pressure on the Spurs’ defense. A Eubanks lay-in shaved the lead to three, but San Antonio missed several chances to tie things up. A 12-2 run by the Kings, paved on the back of several Spurs’ turnovers, pushed the lead again to double-digits. Fox put the finishing touches on the Kings’ fifth straight victory as San Antonio failed o mount a another comeback.
For the Kings fan’s perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
After a night off, the two teams play each other again Wednesday night at 7:30 PM CT.