Seven-straight losses and being eliminated from In Season Tournament contention is not a fun result. Staying competitive against one of the best teams in the Western Conference slightly alleviates the sting of a loss.
The San Antonio Spurs battled for the majority of the game, giving the Sacramento Kings all they could handle at times. Still, the inconsistency quarter to quarter bit the Spurs in the tail, as they dropped another home game 129-120. The defense struggled to contain Sacramento’s dynamic duo, as De’Aaron Fox scored 43 and and Domantas Sabonis 27 and 14. The Kings shot 54.1% from the field and 42.9% from deep.
The Spurs offense was similarly good. They scored 120 points on 46.7% shooting from the field and hit 41.7% of their threes. They were led by the “veteran” big man Zach Collins, who posted an impressive stat line of 28 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals while shooting 10-14 from the field.
Collins did damage from all over the court, but the most encouraging was his work from beyond the arc. The center went 3-5 from deep, stretching the Kings defense all night. Collins is shooting just 30.4% from three to start the season, so shooting performances like Friday’s are important for him finding his stroke.
He finished strong inside over a weaker defender in Sabonis. Collins was so good against Sacramento that he had Doc Rivers on ESPN’s broadcast questioning who was a more valuable center, Sabonis or Collins.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Collins highlight reel without some passing footage. The big man is so talented at finding cutters, and in this case, 7-foot-4 dunkers. The high-low pairing for Collins and Victor Wembanyama has been one of the more fun wrinkles of the Spurs offense. This was one of the best plays of the night from both of them.
Wembanyama had a bounce back game against Sacramento. He finished with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals. He also shot 12-26 from the field, and was a team low -31 for the game. Adjusting to the NBA is a process even for a phenom like Wemby.
Wembanyama started the game hot by getting downhill. The Spurs found him early for easy baskets around the rim. He got away from that later in the game, forcing difficult mid-range and three-point shots. He’s been very effective as a lob threat.
Especially in transition, where his leak outs have led to some easy buckets. The Spurs are finally passing the ball ahead early to find easy points on the break.
This transition play from Wemby was the most impressive. With the clock ticking down, it would be easy for a young superstar to try to take matters in his own hands and score as time expires. Wembanyama is not your average young star. He makes the right play, finding Malaki Branham who hits Sandro Mamukelashvili for the buzzer beater. That’s unselfish, quality basketball.
You can find Wembanyama’s full highlights below.
Keldon Johnson also played well. He had 21 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the loss. He was cash from deep – hitting five of his nine three-pointers.
The Spurs will host the struggling Memphis Grizzlies in their next contest on Saturday night. They’ll look for multiple strong performances as they attempt to get back in the win column on this home stand.
Check out full game highlights below.