Following a disappointing loss on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs bounced back in a big way by winning 120-106 vs the Sacramento Kings tonight. With three games left in their homestand, two of which will be against the sputtering Pacers and lowly Cavaliers, San Antonio needs to take advantage and add to their win column if they hope to strengthen their spot in the play-in tournament.
The opening moments of the game were some of the most exciting and fast-paced basketball played by either team all season long, as there wasn’t a single whistle blown for almost the first six minutes of the first quarter. After some early defensive lapses, the good guys settled in and maintained a level of energy that the Kings simply couldn’t match. This was fueled by two emphatic dunks from Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson, both of which happened in transition. From that moment on, San Antonio maintained control for the remainder of the game, leading by double digits for most of the night.
Even with the starters subbed out, that infectious energy level was maintained by San Antonio’s bench mob. Patty Mills provided his usual spark whenever he was on the floor, consistently causing havoc on offense through his constant movements and vocal leadership. Of course, he also knocked down deep threes and hustled non-stop, ending the first half with five assists. Meanwhile, Rudy Gay showed off his springy step with a putback dunk and the pair of veterans combined for 22 points on an efficient 8-11 shooting in the opening half alone.
Led by their young duo of Tyrese Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox, the Kings made things somewhat interesting late in the game after cutting San Antonio’s lead down to 13. Fox was a menace in transition as his speed was too much for any Spur to handle, while Haliburton continued to display poise beyond his years by steadily knocking down shots and making smart decisions with the ball. Thankfully, the Spurs maintained their poise and kept producing offensively, preventing Sacramento from gaining any momentum that might’ve jumpstarted a potential comeback.
After dropping five on their past six games, this was a much needed victory for the Spurs. More importantly, their consistent play throughout the match showed that the team is regaining its rhythm, and hopefully they’ll be able to sustain that momentum into Friday’s showdown against the Hawks.
- The Spurs had seven players score in double digits tonight, showing that the victory was largely due to a full team effort. This won’t happen every game, but it’s still nice to see the depth that San Antonio has especially since they have a brutal schedule for the rest of the season.
- Derrick White struggled with his shot again as he ended the game just 5-17 from the field and 2-8 from three. However, it’s encouraging to see him continuing to shoot with confidence because he’s going to get his rhythm back eventually. Sometimes players just need to keep firing away to get out of a slump, and that’s exactly what Derrick is doing.
- Gorgui Dieng made his Spurs debut but played only 5:34 in total before exiting with a sprained shoulder. It’s a minuscule sample size but he didn’t look out of place on the court, which is a positive considering it usually takes players a while to get comfortable in San Antonio’s system. I don’t think it’s outlandish to think that he could benefit the team more than LaMarcus Aldridge did this season considering how quickly the latter’s mobility has declined. Hopefully it’s a minor sprain and Dieng will be back on the court soon.
- Jakob Poeltl had another strong showing, finishing with a double-double and being a defensive menace as usual. In fact, he has averaged a double-double ever since I talked about his limited offensive game last week, so perhaps he read my article and decided to prove me wrong. Unfortunately, Poeltl’s free throw shooting continues to be a problem, as he’s only gone 7-18 over the past three games, which is sadly right in line with his season average. Also, he’s probably trying to delete every clip of his two airballs when the Kings resorted to Hack-a-Jak in the fourth quarter in hopes that he doesn’t end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. Wait, it might already be too late for that...
- The Spurs play their third game in four nights tonight, and the team won’t have a three day break in between games for the rest of the season. Fatigue will definitely settle in soon, if it hasn’t already, which is why San Antonio’s depth is so important. There are bound to be nights in which the shots aren’t falling for guys like DeMar DeRozan and Murray, so the onus will be on other players to step up and provide some secondary scoring. Thankfully, that’s happened for the entire season, but the Spurs’ physical and mental aptitude will definitely be tested over the next month and a half.
Next game: Vs. Hawks on Thursday
This will be a tough one, as the Hawks have looked rejuvenated under new coach Nate McMillan and are also fighting to maintain a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.