In a game that had the intensity of a first round playoff series throughout, the San Antonio Spurs worked through a frigid shooting first half and escaped with the hard-fought victory. The Spurs were able to avert their sixth consecutive loss despite horrid shooting from behind the arc (4 for 22). They were able to leverage an advantage in rebounding (44 to 35) and second chance points (13 to 3) along with better half-court execution down the stretch.
The Sacramento Kings saw its surprising win streak end at five and fell 3.5 games behind the Spurs with a scant handful of games remaining. The Kings were paced by confounding star turns by Terence Davis (24 points and 3 steals) and Delon Wright (17 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds).
San Antonio’s star duo of DeMar DeRozan (25 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists) and Dejounte Murray (22 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebonds), and bolstered by Rudy Gay’s 14 points off the bench, carried the day in its critical road victory. The Spurs moved to 2.5 games ahead of New Orleans with the win.
- Given the manner in which he pulverized the Spurs defenders for 13 free throws two weeks ago, it’s ironic that the injury which took out Zion Williamson was a finger.
- If San Antonio is somehow able to hold off the Kings and Pelicans, fans may have a former Pop favorite to thank. George Hill disrupted New Orleans’ final possession tonight to help Philadelphia preserve its victory and put the Pelicans three games behind the Spurs in the loss column.
- Without their two point guards, Sacramento had center Marvin Bagley III bring the ball up the court to start the game.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Johnson, early in the second half, absorbed heavy contact on the way to the rim and followed up his miss with a tip over a pair of Kings bigs. Johnson outdid himself shortly after with an over the head reverse over Bagley III that netted an and-1.
- Devin’s Deeds: Vassell, early in the second period, generated some spectacular moments. After a pull-up jumper that would make DeRozan proud, he saved a ball sailing out of bounds to a teammate to start a fast break, and topped it by deflecting a lob attempt on the ensuing possession.
- Richaun Holmes, Marvin Bagley III, Damian Jones, and former Spur Chimezie Metu may comprise the most athletic frontcourt in the league.
- If Tim Duncan were to come back into the building as an assistant, perhaps he could help Rudy Gay with making more purposeful outlet passes.
- If you get the chance to see a Sacramento home game, one of the highlights of the Golden 1 Center are the very wide concourses - making it one of the few arenas where you can stroll around the lower bowl with little disruption while still catching a good amount of the on-court action.
- Kings analyst Doug Christie marveled with envy at Pop’s mane crooning “Oh man, I wish I had hair like that... flowing. That’s what we call LOCKS.”
- DeMar DeRozan and the other starters stormed out of the gates nailing five of their first six attempts - punctuated by Lonnie Walker IV’s acrobatic layup. The Spurs held the Kings under double digits through the first 7+ minutes. Sacramento’s bench picked up the pace for the sluggish starters, including a lob to Metu and Terence Davis making his first three shots. San Antonio left the quarter up 25-21 behind DeRozan’s dozen and both teams shooting under 40%.
- Davis’s fifth straight make helped the Kings close the deficit to one early in the second. Murray nailed a trio of fadeaways and found Poeltl for a dunk to keep the Spurs in front. The teams traded baskets liberally for most of the stanza. Walker IV’s second gravity-defying layup pushed the Spurs lead out to four. Buddy Hield’s pull-up three gave Sacramento its first lead, but DeRozan sandwiched difficult layups around a jumper to give San Antonio a 52-49 advantage.
- The teams traded buckets exiting the half. During a Kings fast break, San Antonio was cited for a clear path foul, but Sacramento was unable to take advantage. Moe Harkless, silent for the first half, shockingly converted field goals all over the court. Johnson made his presence known with three paint floaters and an emphatic three-point play in traffic. Walker IV came up gimpy, but remained in the game. Another Hield three gave the Kings the lead. Sacramento followed suit and caught fire - extending the lead to eight. The Spurs regained some composure to close within three heading into the fourth quarter.
- Third-stringer Kyle Guy’s second straight three put the Kings back into the lead after a Poeltl and-1. Consecutive jumpers by Rudy Gay put San Antonio back up by four. Murray then paired a feather jumper with a bullet pass to Poeltl for a jam to make it an eight point game briefly. Unsung contributor Davis spearheaded a Sacramento rally. Murray’s clutch jumper in the paint gave the Spurs their first double-digit lead since the opening minutes. A 10-0 run by the Kings made that lead vanish.
- Sacramento capitalized on a brutal Murray turnover with a layup at the other end to make it 100-99. Walker IV responded with a point-blank bucket, while Hield somehow willed in a three off the glass over Gay’s arms to beat the shot clock. Murray made up for his mistake with a baseline swish, and Walker IV powered in yet another soaring lay-in to make it 107-102. The Kings botched an inbounds play to turn it back over to the Spurs. Walker IV completed his own trifecta with an aerial banker to give San Antonio necessary breathing room.
For the Kings fan’s perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
San Antonio heads to Portland for a SEGABABA tomorrow night at 7:00 PM CT to take on Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers.