There’s certainly no shame in a Sacramento Kings team losing a road game to the San Antonio Spurs. But while the score ended up somewhat close, the Kings just did not play efficient basketball. The effort was there, but production was hard to come by, and that was due in large part to the Spurs stingy defense and fluid offense. Sacramento never recovered from a first quarter in which they shot 21 percent and scored just 13 points. The Kings made several impressive runs, but the Spurs responded to every punch, eventually finishing off Sacramento, 108-101.
BACKCOURT DUD – On Wednesday, it was Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans and John Salmons who drove the Kings to victory over New Orleans. In San Antonio, all three failed to show up, and as a result, the Kings offense stalled. Thomas (22 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-10 FG, 3 AST, 2 TO, 3 STL) played very poorly, failing to orchestrate any offense for himself or others. Aside from back-to-back three-pointers in the third, Evans (21 MIN, 9 PTS, 3-9 FG, 2 AST, 3 TO) was equally disappointing. Neither Thomas nor Evans could find any holes to attack the Spurs defense. Add in the fact that Salmons (0-4 FG), who dropped 22 on the Hornets, went scoreless in 20 minutes, and it was not the makings of a successful night for Sacramento.
TRANSITION FAILURES – While the Kings fought for every offensive opportunity they got, the Spurs continually exploited Sacramento’s failure to get back on defense. Every missed shot or turnover by the Kings was pushed up court, and especially in the first half, Sacramento was simply beaten down the floor. The Kings failed to set up their defense early, and the Spurs took advantage. San Antonio shot 54.5 percent for the game, and all seven Spurs who saw at least 15 minutes of court time scored in double figures.
BENCH TAKEOVER – With the starting backcourt failing to ignite the offense, Keith Smart turned to a reserve unit of Toney Douglas, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton to spark the team. For the most part, it was mission accomplished. Douglas (26 MIN, 15 PTS, 6-11 FG, 3-4 3FG, 7 AST, 3 REB, 4 STL, 0 TO) was the team’s MVP — an absolute pest defending Tony Parker and Nando de Colo and also extremely efficient as the Kings floor general. Fredette (24 MIN, 14 PTS, 5-8 FG, 2-3 3FG, 2 AST) provided a solid scoring presence, though his defense was a liability the Spurs attacked in the second quarter. Thornton (30 MIN, 12 PTS, 4-10 FG, 4-7 3FG) caught fire in the second frame but was too inconsistent to be relied upon to carry the team. All three saw the floor more than the aforementioned struggling starters.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson formed a solid frontcourt pairing. A combined 37 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks … Chuck Hayes (17 MIN, 0 PTS, 0-3 FG, 2 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO) was downright awful. He was a complete wreck offensively, and you never sensed his presence on defense. He left Matt Bonner open for some triples in the second half … Cousins picked up his league-leading 15th technical foul; one more earns him a one-game suspension.