The Spurs returned to their true home of the AT&T Center hoping to get the bad taste of four straight losses out of their mouths, especially the humiliation they suffered in the Alamodome, and for one half it looked like they just might do that, as they took a one-point lead into halftime against a vastly improved Sacramento Kings club that currently sits at fourth in the West. Unfortunately, a horrible third quarter spotted the Kings the dreaded double-digit lead, and while the Spurs tried to rally in the fourth, they could never get over the hump on their way to a 132-119 loss.
When he wasn’t in foul trouble, Jakob Poeltl had a terrific night with 23 points on 10-12 shooting, while Josh Richardson has 21 points off the bench, including 4-6 from three. Harrison Barnes quietly led six Kings in double figures with 29 points, while De’Aaron Fox had 23 and Domantas Sabonis had an 18-18 double-double.
- If you would have asked me to guess who the NBA’s leading rebounder would be any given season, or even just list players who are capable of it, I never would have guessed Sabonis. But there he is, leading the way with 12.5 rebounds per game. He already had a double-double at halftime, which is impressive considering the Spurs only missed 16 shots in the first half. Only two of his 10 first-half rebounds were on offense, so that means he grabbed half of their misses.
- The Spurs got out to 13-4 start thanks to Poeltl going off for 8 points early, as the Kings were letting them have whatever they wanted in the paint. Sacramento would eventually respond with an 11-4 run themselves and eventually retook the lead at 21-19 as the Spurs became turnover happy. The two teams traded the lead for the rest of the quarter, and the Spurs entered the second quarter down 32-33 after a Richardson three. It was the Spurs’ best shooting quarter of the season at 68% on 15-22 shooting with 12 assists. If only they didn’t have those 4 turnovers.
- Has all the foul trouble and focus the refs have had on Zach Collins lately affected his defensive game? Not that he was ever the strongest defender, but he has been getting absolutely roasted lately, and when he does try to defend, he always gets called for the foul. His confidence on that end seems shot, and he only played six minutes in the first half due to getting three fouls. Poeltl also had three fouls in the half and had to sit with a minute left — with the third coming on a questionable call, when Sabonis seemed to trip over his own feet — but he also contributed 16 points on a perfect 7-7 from the field. The Spurs ended the half up 64-63.
- After getting his first NBA action in months at the Alamodome following a knee injury, Blake Wesley got some run in the second quarter and immediately scored on a drive to the rim. He later hit a three and showed off some serious speed getting up and down the court. It’s hard to believe that he only appeared for 23 minutes back in October before his injury, but the fact that he stuck in everyone’s minds while waiting for him to return even with such a small sample size is a reminder what an impression he makes when he’s out there.
- The Spurs probably got a talking-to after they spent too much time celebrating a Tre Jones dunk with 6 sec left before the half, which allowed a too-easy bucket for Fox at the buzzer. So after the Kings again got two easy buckets (pun not intended) to start the second half, Gregg Popovich called a timeout less than a minute into the third quarter. It didn’t help, as Poeltl quickly picked up his fourth foul and had to sit, and the Kings continued to waltz their way to the rim in transition to get the lead as high as 14 and led 102-90 heading into the fourth quarter.
- The Spurs finally got a momentum swing early in the fourth, when Richardson got a steal from the Kings out in transition and got it to Collins for a three, and a Malaki Branham jumper forced a Mike Brown timeout after their lead was back to single digits. Two Richardson threes and two from Keldon Johnson had the momentum squarely on the Spurs side as they got within four, but that would be as close as they got. The threes stopped falling, and Fox, who should be a contender for the NBA’s new “Clutch Player of the Year” award, had 11 points in the quarter to keep the Spurs at bay and move them to 0-29 when trailing by double digits this season.
For the Kings fans’ perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
The Spurs return to the AT&T Center on Tuesday to take on the Brooklyn Nets. Tipoff will be at 7:00 PM CT Bally Sports SW-SA.