It’s not very often that a game against the Sacramento Kings can be penciled in as a loss, but with the Kings coming in fresh off of clinching their first playoff berth since 2006 and just a win (or a Phoenix loss) away from clinching their first Pacific Division title since 2003, plus the Spurs missing Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan, it seemed like it would be a scheduled loss for the Silver and Black. However, the Spurs had other plans, getting career nights from several players on the way to their first overtime victory of the season, 142-134.
Doug McDermott led the Spurs with a season-high 30 points (one off his career high), 22 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime. Julian Champagnie was the king of the first half with 22 of his career-high 26 points, Dominick Barlow posted a double-double, and Tre Jones notched a 17-10-11 triple-double. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis combined for 54 points to lead the Kings.
- How starved for victory is the city of Sacramento? Hundreds of fans met their team at the airport last night after they completed a miniseries sweep in Portland, which helped them clinch their playoff berth and end the longest drought in the NBA. Good for them. The people of Sacramento deserve this. They have been deprived of success for so long, largely thanks to incompetent ownership, and fans had to band together to keep the team in the city. It’s also good to see former Spurs assistant Mike Brown find success as a head coach again after being made the scapegoat for the Lakers’ surprising incompetence in the early 2010’s.
- That being said, despite being a virtual lock for a top three seed in the West, they sport a top 10 defense on the road but are just 29th in the league at home, and as a result they have a better road record. What good is home court advantage if you can’t defend it (literally)? Their home struggles showed early as the Spurs got (and hit) several open threes and capitalized on easy backdoor cuts while the Kings’ defenders were half asleep. As a result, the Spurs built a lead as high as nine before settling for 32-30 at the end of the first quarter.
- Turnovers were a problem for both teams in the first half, and they were mostly of the careless, unforced variety, such as errant passes or dribbling off one’s own limb. The Kings had 11 turnovers to the Spurs’ 12, and as result it was a mostly back-and-forth second quarter with several lead changes and neither team ever building any kind of cushion.
- Champagnie had a terrific first half. He scored a career-high 22 points in the first half alone (his previous high was 12 points, and he became the first Spurs rookie to score 20 in a half since Bryn Forbes in 2017). He was active on the fast break, backdoor cuts and hit 3-5 threes. After a rough initial stretch that saw the Spurs lose that nine-point first quarter lead, the bench’s second stint was much more effective (largely thanks to Champagnie), and as a unit they scored 36 points in the first half to help spot the Spurs a 63-58 halftime lead.
- Barlow also had a career night. He filled in admirably at backup center as Zach Collins battled foul trouble all night before eventually fouling out late in the fourth, and he helped keep the league’s leading rebounder in Sabonis off the glass, posting a double-double with a career-high 12 points, along with 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He didn’t look nearly as lost or out of position as he usually does, and baseline jumper might become a signature shot for him. Overall, it was a great night for both two-way players.
- On the other hand, Blake Wesley had ones his “out of control” games where he was ahead of himself most of the time, moving before knowing what he was going to do with the ball, and throwing errant passes. He stilled had his flashes, such as an open-court steal for a dunk and using his speed to drive to the rim, but the biggest thing he will need to work on in the offseason is not letting that lightning quick speed get ahead of his brain. Once the game slows down for him, he’ll be a problem for defenses.
- The flow of the second half very much mimicked the first. The Spurs got the lead as high as 11 in the third quarter before the Kings did what they did in the first and responded before the quarter was over. Both teams continued to rain haymakers on each other while trading the lead, and for the Spurs it was McDermott who took over in the fourth with 13 points. Pop drew up a great defensive play on the last possession to double-team Fourth Quarter Fox late and make someone else take the final shot. It worked as Kevin Hueter missed, and the game went to overtime.
- After five losses in OT this season, the Spurs were determined to get a win this season, and they did just that by hitting their first six shots. McDermott scored nine more points, Jones hit some circus shots, and the Spurs notched their first OT victory and win number 20 to get out of the teens.
For the Kings fans’ perspective, visit Sactown Royalty.
The will remain in the West to take on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. Tipoff will be at 9:00 PM CT on CW35.