There are some nights that the Spurs feel like a very repetitive team to watch. While they’ve had some extreme blowout losses this season, it often feels like their closer losses have mostly followed the same script: play even for the majority of the game, but one bad stretch somewhere defines the outcome because this team just doesn’t have the firepower to overcome a double-digit deficit. This time, it was a 12-0 second quarter run for the Sacramento Kings that put the Spurs in a hole they couldn’t crawl out of despite playing relatively even for the other 45 minutes.
Both teams had the green light to attach the rim to begin the game, and the Spurs had the last laugh to end the first quarter with a 31-30 lead after a Jakob Poeltl layup in transition before the buzzer, but unfortunately, the most notable event was both Jeremy Sochan and Tre Jones headed to the locker room about a minute apart with separate injuries. Sochan could be seen grabbing his lower back and left with a slight gimp, and Jones reportedly hurt his left foot. Both were out for the remainder of the game.
The Kings opened the second quarter on an 11-4 run, with six of those points coming from former Spur Trey Lyles, forcing a Pop timeout. He then called another timeout after the Kings scored another layup, but it didn’t help. The Kings got three straight buckets off Spurs turnovers and got out to the aforementioned dreaded double-digit lead at 49-37 on that 12-0 run. Malaki Branham and Zach Collins scored the Spurs’ final 8 points of the quarter to get them back within seven, 61-54, at the break, but the damage had been done. The Spurs actually shot just as well as the Kings in the half, but they gave up too many fast break opportunities and allowed 21 points to Domantas Sabonis, who got whatever he wanted in the paint all night no matter who was guarding him.
The Spurs came out aggressive to start the second half, forcing a Kings timeout after getting within three on two straight layups from Josh Richardson, who started the half in place of Sochan. Sabonis continued to eviscerate the Spurs on the defensive end with another 13 points in the quarter to reach a season-high 34 points, but they remained equally aggressive on offense to keep pace and the cut the lead to five, 89-84, heading into the final frame.
The Spurs scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to get within a point, giving maybe a glimmer of hope that they could end their dreadful 0-36 record when trailing by double digits, but turnovers continued to plague them, and most notably, they couldn’t keep the Kings off the free throw line. As has often been the case this season, fourth-quarter execution plagued the shorthanded Spurs while the more talented team simply outplayed them, and the Kings gradually rebuilt their lead to hand the Spurs their seventh straight loss, 119-109.
- Similar to Monday’s loss to the Wizards, this was a game that the Spurs actually won or played even in several statistical categories, but it was the ones they lost that really cost them. Both teams hit 48 field goals and 8 threes, and the Spurs won the battle of the boards and had five more assists. The problem was they were outscored 25-8 in points off 18 turnovers, and 15-5 at the free throw line. Mistakes were the killer.
- The Spurs could be seen getting frustrated with the refs as the game wore on, as they believed it wasn’t being called evenly. For the most part the refs let both teams play, but when looking at how many points in the paint both teams scored — despite Sabonis’ domination, the Kings just barely won that category 74-68 — it’s hard to imagine the Spurs weren’t fouled at least similarly as often as the Kings. For a while, it looked like the Spurs might even set a season low in free throw attempts, which was previously four. They were sitting at just three attempts with five minutes left in the game but eventually got four more after going into the bonus.
- Nazr Mohammed was the Spurs alum of the evening, and he recounted his hazy entry to the club when he was traded from the Knicks for one of the most popular Spurs of all time: Malik Rose. No one was happy at the time — I personally remember wanting to cry — and Mohammed said it probably took two weeks before Tim Duncan would even talk to him. However, all was soon forgiven as he played an integral role in their 2005 championship, and today he is one of the more well remembered Spurs to have spent less than two seasons with the club.
Play of the Game
Remember when 30 assists used to be an automatic win for the Spurs? Those were the days. Regardless, good things usually happen with teamwork, and this possession was a nice example and helped kick off a career-high 22 points for Malaki Branham.
That BALL MOVEMENT!!! @spurs | #PorVida pic.twitter.com/hXau95pNWP— Bally Sports San Antonio (@BallySportsSA) February 2, 2023
Up next: Friday vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The Spurs will play their final home game before the Rodeo Road Trip on Friday against the 76ers. They’re a much-improved team since the Spurs upset them early in the season, but hopefully the Good Guys can find the momentum to end the homestand on a high note considering they won’t be back until March.