CK Press Box Report: San Antonio Spurs 108, Sacramento Kings 102

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

Clank.  Clank.  Clank.

That was the sound of the rim on the Sacramento Kings’ first three shots Tuesday night at Sleep Train Arena. ¬†And that’s what it sounded like for the rest of the quarter as their offense sputtered to start their first game back from All-Star Break, falling 108-102 to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday Night.

The Kings scored just 19 points on 4-of-22 shooting in the opening quarter. ¬†That was the difference against one the league’s elite this evening. ¬†In a game that was decided by five points, the Kings went on to outscore the Spurs 83-80 in the ensuing three periods.

Sacramento falls to 19-36 overall, 14-13 at home. ¬†Before this evening’s defeat, the Kings had won their previous two home games. ¬†Starting Friday, they hit the road for a five-game trip, which begins against the Atlanta Hawks.

Notes and Analysis

  • Tony Parker was unstoppable for the Spurs tonight, finishing with a game-high 30 points and 11 assists in 35 minutes of action.¬† The veteran All-Star took a beating, but kept going right to the rim against a porous Kings defense.¬† If Parker had a weakness tonight, it was the seven turnovers that he accumulated throughout the contest.
  • Isaiah Thomas tried to match Parker, but came up short, scoring a team-high 22 points and four assists.¬† Thomas needs to improve as a defender, be it against a speedster like Parker or a perimeter player like Danny Green.
  • While he only shot 6-for-16 from the field, Marcus Thornton came up huge down the stretch, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the final 12 minutes.¬† The Kings need Thornton to find some consistency, be it game-by-0game or quarter-by-quarter.
  • DeMarcus Cousins had a solid, but unspectacular game, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the night.¬† He played solid defense on Duncan and Splitter, limiting the duo to a combined 13 points on the night.¬† Foul trouble limited Cousins to just 27 minutes, but in his defense, there was more than one suspect call against him.
  • Tyreke Evans stayed aggressive against a tough Spurs defense, scoring 20 points, grabbing five rebounds and picking up three steals in 31 minutes.¬† Smart has to get creative and find a way to get Evans’ minute totals up down the stretch, be it at point guard, shooting guard or small forward.
  • Jason Thompson struggled early, but finished with 11 points and eight rebounds against a tough Spurs frontline.¬† After an 0-for-5 start in the first half, Smart stuck with Thompson and he responded with a solid performance.
  • While Thompson started slow and finished well, the reverse was the case for Jimmer Fredette.¬† Jimmer kept the Kings in the game in the first half with a 10-point second quarter.¬† The Spurs had no answer for the Kings second-year guard.¬† Unfortunately, Jimmer missed all three of his shots in the second half.
  • Stat of the Night:¬† The Sacramento Kings have won 19 total games this season out of 55.¬† The Spurs, meanwhile, have won 19 of their last 23.
- James Ham

Three answers to three questions pondered

1.  What impact will a trip to All-Star weekend have on Isaiah Thomas?

The Kings played an anemic first quarter, shooting just 19 percent from the field on 4-of-22 shots. ¬†Thomas was the only player who came out of the gates ready to play, scoring 10 of the Kings’ first 19 points. ¬†The second-year guard finished the night with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting and four assists in 30 minutes of action.

2.  Can the Kings avoid a collapse in quarter No. 2?

Considering they shot so poorly to start the game, it was amazing the Kings were down just nine after one quarter. ¬†The starters gave the Kings nothing at the beginning of the game, but fortunately the bench did, especially Jimmer Fredette. ¬†The Kings’ second-year guard scored all 10 of his points in the quarter after halftime. ¬†The Kings played the Spurs even in the second quarter as both teams scored 22 points a piece.

3.  After a short break to get some perspective, does Keith Smart finally settle on a rotation in the second half of the season?

It’s going to take more than the first game after the All-Star Break to answer this question. ¬†But tonight, the Kings’ coach went with a 10-man rotation in the loss. ¬†All eyes are always on how Smart handles playing time for his point guards and Tuesday, Smart went Jimmer Fredette instead of Aaron Brooks. ¬†With DeMarcus Cousins battling foul trouble, Chuck Hayes played heavy minutes. ¬†The Kings veteran big man was a factor defensively, slowing down Tim Duncan, who finished with just nine points fresh off his 14th NBA All-Star appearance.

- Jonathan Santiago

Quotes of the Game

Kawhi Leonard on getting back into a rhythm after the All-Star Break:

I felt like we came together well after All-Star Break. ¬†We weren’t together for about three days. ¬†We had a good road win tonight. ¬†The Kings played us tough and it came down to the end.

Isaiah Thomas on the upcoming road trip:

We’ve just got to focus in and try to win every game one at a time. ¬†It’s going to be a rough road trip, but hopefully we can take care of business. ¬†We’ve got to really dial in and try to get at least probably three of these games of the five.

Keith Smart on playing a veteran team in the Spurs:

I thought our guys did a good job playing up against guys who have been through every war that there has been in the NBA. ¬†Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette did a great job. ¬†The way that they competed and played was great. ¬†There wasn’t a moral victory here, but I thought our guys did a great job against one of the best teams in the league.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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