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Lonnie Walker IV shines but Spurs lose to Kings in Play-In race

Lonnie Walker IV. No Defense. And a third straight loss.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs fell 15 games below 0.500 after a disappointing loss to Play-In rivals the Sacramento Kings. The Spurs who returned home after nearly a month on the road were playing a team who were on the second night of a back to back, and having had flown in the morning of the game because of travel issues the previous night. The Silver & Black did fight back from 19-points down to lead in the fourth, but a poor last few minutes meant they dropped their third game in a row.

The game began with rough shooting for both teams, even though they were creating a number of good looks. The visitors generated their points by getting to the line while Dejounte Murray picked up the first six for the Spurs. Lonnie Walker IV who was coming off a three game stretch of 20+ points had two quick threes to start his stint off the bench. For the rest of the squad they were finding it hard to convert offensive possessions into baskets with the Kings making it difficult on the defensive end, closing driving lanes and forcing the Silver & Black to shoot outside shots. Dejounte came back into the game late in the first and provided a small spark through energy and aggressive darts to the rim.

The Kings had a three-point lead going into the second but they were determined to try and stretch that lead, but it was Lonnie once again hitting back to back threes to help keep the Spurs close. It was on the other end of the floor where the home team were finding problems as their defense continued to be awful and offer no resistance. Fortunately, Walker was unstoppable in this quarter, scoring 14 points and from all three levels of the court to keep the game from becoming a blowout before the second half. The rest of the Spurs were cold and couldn’t make a shot which allowed the Kings a healthy 64-51 lead at half-time.

If you thought the interval would suddenly change the defense, you would have been mistaken. The defense was as poor as ever with the Kings increasing their lead to 19, hitting open shots and taking advantage of the free lanes to the rim. Just like it had been all game, it was SkyWalker that helped the Spurs get back into the contest. Pop also had a four guard lineup with one big on the floor which caused Sacramento all kinds of trouble on both ends of the court. Tre Jones, Dejounte, Lonnie & Josh Primo with Zach Collins were able to push the pace together and find easy buckets. This lineup change helped San Antonio go into the fourth only down six.

The home side started the final period with all the momentum and they made that count with a 9-3 run which levelled the scores up. The rookie, Josh Primo, was instrumental at the beginning of the fourth, hitting a huge pull up three and scoring the ball-game tying dunk. The crowd was alive for the first time on the night and the Spurs were upping their intensity to match the energy. Tre Jones was showing excellent off the ball movement which led to two cuts and four-points for the backup point-guard. For the Kings, they weren’t willing to go away easy, in particular, De’Aaron Fox, who hit a few tough shots. Then in the final two minutes, the officials took over the game and it was the away team who got the benefit of the calls late which kept the Silver & Black at bay. Murray hit a few threes to extend the game but Sacramento made just enough of their free throws to not allow the Spurs a way back in. Eventually winning; 115-112.

Game Notes

  • Rotations. For the first time in what seemed like forever the Spurs had no players on the injury report and therefore Pop had his full choice of players to pick from for his rotations. In the first-half, Coach Pop, went with a bench five of, Jones, Primo, Walker, KBD & Collins. After a poor start to the second half, Josh Richardson got a few minutes before he was eventually taken back out. Romeo Langford still didn’t get a chance to make his debut.
  • January 19th, 2022. This was the last time San Antonio didn’t allow over 100 points in a game. It was against the OKC Thunder. If the Spurs are going to make a run at the play-in their defense is going to have to improve, not just the communication and scheme but more importantly the effort. Too many ball watchers and lacklustre swipes at the ball. You can’t play defense at a 50% effort and expect stops, and at the moment that is what the Spurs are doing.
  • Play-In Update. San Antonio are 2.5 games out of the 10th seed with 19 games to play.

Play of the Game

Lonnie’ 13th and 14th point of his immaculate second quarter was this beauty of an ally-oop.

Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)

3rd place (1 point): Dejounte Murray | 35mins, 29 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals

This type of line usually gets you first place, but with the standards Dejounte has set these days it’s hard to give him any higher than third because of the negatives that came along with this stat line. He had five turnovers with a bunch of them being drives into the paint where there were multiple defenders waiting for him. He had some other poor decisions that led to bad shots and possessions where he over dribbled and took away most of the shot clock. But like always he still made an impact on the game, scoring in spurts and running in transition. Another great rebounding game but his defense was suspect. He was caught watching the ball too much and allowing his player to attack right past him. The improvement with the team defense is going to have to start with him, he’s the leader and the others will follow his lead.

2nd place (2 points): Tre Jones | 20mins, 7 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, team high +11

Tre Jones is getting better by the game and is becoming a huge part of the Spurs second unit. His ability to push the pace and put the defense on their heels is so important to the way Coach Pop wants this team to play. The end of the third where the Silver & Black started to gain momentum happened because he was on the court doing a bit of everything.

1st place (3 points): Lonnie Walker IV | 30mins, 30 points, 12/20 fg’s, 5/11 from three

30 points in 30 minutes for Lonnie in what feels like the peak of this seven game scoring run that he is on. That second quarter was explosive and he was playing with so much confidence. He was smiling throughout the game, looking relaxed and happy just being able to ball and have some success. He did fade in the fourth quarter but he was tasked with carrying the load for the first three, so you can’t blame him much. For the Spurs fans that have waited for this for the past 3 and a half years, soak it in, this is Lonnie Walker IV.

Overall Leaderboard

1st - Dejounte Murray - 94pts

2nd - Jakob Poeltl - 59pts

3rd - Derrick White- 51pts

4th - Keldon Johson - 42pts

5th - Devin Vassell- 41pts

6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 30pts

7th - Doug McDermott - 16pts

8th - Bryn Forbes - 12pts

9th - Thaddeus Young - 11pts

10th - Keita Bates-Diop & Tre Jones - 6pts

11th - Jock Landale - 4pts

12th - Josh Primo - 3pts

13th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts

14th - Devontae Cacok - 1pt

Next Game: @ Charlotte on Saturday

The Spurs have a quick one game roadie against the Charlotte Hornets before they return for their seven game home-stand.