CK Press Box Report: San Antonio Spurs 99, Sacramento Kings 79

by Jonathan Santiago & James Ham

The San Antonio Spurs are perhaps the NBA’s most well-oiled machine. Friday night, they played what was one of their ugliest games of the year and yet the Sacramento Kings were still no match. The Kings allowed the Spurs to out-execute them down the stretch in a 99-79 blowout loss at Sleep Train Arena.

It was a tale of two quarters for both teams in the second half. The Kings and Spurs each shot 30 percent and below in the period after halftime. Both teams would find their offense in the fourth quarter. However, it was the championship-tested Spurs who were able to gain separation in the final frame of regulation.

“I feel like they executed better,” Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said after the loss.  “They’re great at what they do and they did it well tonight.”

The Spurs started the fourth quarter on a seven-point swing. A last-second 3-point bucket by Isaiah Thomas to close out the third period was waived off after officials ruled it didn’t beat the buzzer. San Antonio proceeded to score a quick four-points and force the Kings into a timeout while pushing their lead to 16.

The Kings were paced by Thomas, who finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field.  Cousins also chipped in his sixth straight double-double with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Rudy Gay couldn’t stop a stomach virus from getting the best of him. The veteran small forward left the game at the 8:52 mark of the fourth quarter and finished with just 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the defeat.

“He drove to the basket and thought that he got hit and I think that his stomach illness acted up after that,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said of Gay. “He had to leave for the rest of the game, but I think that Travis Outlaw came off of the bench and gave us some good minutes and competed. We cut it to five in the second half, then Rudy drives, misses, then they go down and hit a three—we went right back to being down by 10. That’s as close as we could get it. There were a lot of good things to take from tonight.”

The Spurs, meanwhile, keep rolling with its longest winning streak of the season. They’ve won 12-straight overall and extended their winning streak in Sacramento to 11. The Kings have not beaten the Spurs at home since a 112-99 victory on Nov. 26, 2007.

“They’re a group that’s been together a long time with their core pieces so they know each other well and have incredible chemistry,” Cousins said of San Antonio. “Being a young team, you can learn a lot from those guys – how to trust one another, how to communicate with one another. So there are definitely some things, us being a young team, that we can take back and add to our own game. That’s why they’re in the position they’re always in.”

The Kings fall to 24-45 overall and 14-20 at home. They return to action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.




Notes and Analysis

  • Isaiah Thomas played inspired ball, but like most of his teammates, he struggled from the perimeter in the loss. Thomas finished with a team-high 18 points, but shot just 7-of-17 from the field and missed all three of his 3-pointers. He also managed a 4-to-4 assist-to-turnover rate, but the Kings shot just 40 percent from the field against a tough Spurs team.
  • DeMarcus Cousins had a spirited battle with both Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. He finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and two steals in 37 minutes and was part of the reason why Duncan shot just 3-of-12 from the field. Cousins played under control and despite a few questionable calls that didn’t go his way, he continued his streak of technical free ball.
  • Rudy Gay hit the showers early in this one, playing just 32 games before leaving with a stomach illness. Gay and Leonard really went at each other for most of the night in a physical battle of two very good wing players. Gay shot just 4-for-14 from the field and turned the ball over four times, but he gave Leonard all he could handle.
  • Travis Outlaw came off the bench for Michael Malone and provided a spark. The lanky forward scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and hit two of his four 3-point shots in 29 minutes of action.
  • Outlaw’s playing time increased because Ben McLemore couldn’t stay on the floor. The rookie got taken to school in the second quarter, picking up three fouls during a 25-second stretch. He finished with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes.
  • Both Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams had off nights for the Kings. The duo scored a total of four points on 2-of-6 shooting over a combined 39 minutes. Both players looked out of sorts for the majority of the time they were on the court.
  • Royce White made his NBA debut, playing the final 56 seconds of the game. Congratulations to the former first round pick whose battle with anxiety disorder is well documented.
  • Stat of the Night: San Antonio is now 21-0 in games that Tiago Splitter scores in double-figures. He scored all 11 of his points in the first half in this one.

Quote of the Night

Michael Malone on not being able to stop the Spurs:

“I thought we did stop them tonight to be very honest. That team has been averaging over 115 points in the last five games and has been shooting over 50 from the field. I thought our defense was great tonight, but they held us to 40% and we had a hard time getting it going. Rudy Gay wasn’t making shots, neither was DeMarcus Cousins, and Isaiah Thomas was struggling a little bit. They just keep at it for 48 minutes and that’s why I think that they are the favorite to win the NBA championship this year. They come at you with waves. Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili, and Boris Diaw came off the bench—they’re a very good team. I liked how we played tonight and I think that the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated.”

Video shot and edited by Kimani David.




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