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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