It’s never easy to play the Spurs in San Antonio, but that was a pretty pathetic effort by the Kings. Sacramento was never in this one, falling behind early and watching the Spurs gradually up their lead. There just wasn’t a sustained run of solid basketball from the Kings, and that was somewhat disappointing after the terrific games they played in Florida earlier in the week. With Manu Ginboli serving as the Spurs quarterback, San Antonio dismantled Sacramento on the way to an easy 130-102 victory.
FLAT STARTS – The Kings started this game with an embarrassing display of ball control that cost each starter his spot on the court. After four turnovers and three missed layups in the first 4:36, Keith Smart took drastic measures, replacing all five starters. Couldn’t fault the coach for that one — it truly was unacceptable. But if you thought the Kings got the message, you would be wrong. After a better second quarter, the Kings came out in the second half and laid another egg. The team missed six of its first seven shots, all misses coming within 10 feet of the basket. A 14-point deficit at halftime was 28 after three quarters, as the Kings just continually failed to execute all night.
STOPPING THE SPURS – While the Kings offense failed to perform up to par, San Antonio had no trouble carving up Sacramento’s defense. The Kings were frequently caught ball watching, giving up countless backdoor cuts or conceding far too much room to Spurs shooters. Eight Spurs scored in double figures. Manu Ginobili was not one of them, as he was too busy orchestrating. Ginobili dropped an impressive 15 assists in just 23 minutes of court time, and the Spurs shot 60.7 percent from the field thanks to this crisp ball movement.
THRIVING THORNTON – Marcus Thornton did a lot of his damage with the game out of reach, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Buckets has regained his outside shooting stroke. Thornton (32 MIN, 25 PTS, 8-13 FG, 2-5 3FG, 7-7 FT, 5 AST, 1 STL) got cooking in the second half in San Antonio, and when the first few dropped, there was no reason for him to stop. Since the All-Star break, Thornton has hit 20 threes in six games, giving the Kings that perimeter weapon they have craved all season.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – DeMarcus Cousins (21 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-9 FG, 7 REB, 0 AST, 4 TO) played a dud of a game. Soft on defense, sloppy on offense, more concerned about discussing matters with the refs than physically battling the Spurs … Hard to assess any Kings players in this one, but I continue to be impressed by the Tyreke Evans (22 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-7 FG, 2-2 3FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 4 TO, 2 STL) of late. Just rounding into a smarter, more complete player. And if he wants to keep throwing in 75-footers, more power to him … Equally unimpressed by Jimmer Fredette (20 MIN, 2 PTS, 1-3 FG, 3 AST, 2 TO), who lately hasn’t looked like an NBA player. Hesitant to shoot, too loose with the dribble and overmatched as a defender. With Aaron Brooks now out of the picture, he should get a chance on most nights to be a contributor. Gotta seize the opportunity.