The Sacramento Kings struggled all game long to find any offensive rhythm, and the veteran San Antonio Spurs squad made them pay the price.
The Spurs, winners of 11 straight coming into Friday night’s matchup, held the Kings to a season low in an ugly 99-79 contest. To their credit, the Kings battled the whole game, and cut the lead to as little as five in the second half, but the game never felt in question from the start.
DeMarcus Cousins led the way for Sacramento with 15 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and five blocks, but the Kings other stars—Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay—were both stymied by the Spurs defense all game long. Kawhi Leonard had 15 points and seven boards to lead San Antonio, while reserve Marco Belinelli had 17 off the bench.
The Effort was There, but…: Unlike a lot of the Kings losses this year, this one can’t be chalked up to lack of effort. Despite only holding the lead for two minutes to open the game, Sacramento continually fought and played like a team only down by one. The Kings defense was excellent, and held San Antonio to 38.7% shooting from the field—but against a dominant Spurs defense on the other end, Sacramento never got going.
Sacramento missed a large handful of easy baskets, and both Isaiah Thomas (18 points, four assists, 7-17 from the field) and Rudy Gay (14 points, five boards, 4-14 from the field) would have easily eclipsed 20 points apiece if they’d made their easier buckets.
Isaiah’s struggles were most concerning, and he looked borderline uncomfortable in the offense in the first half. A post-game quote by coach Michael Malone, courtesy of NBC’s Aaron Bruski, might hold the explanation.
Malone on IT’s wrist: Isaiah is never going to let on how much his wrist is bothering him, but I think his wrist is bothering him.
— Aaron Bruski (@aaronbruski) March 22, 2014
Spurs Do the Little Things: With both teams struggling to score, the Spurs made up for it in other ways. They beat the Kings in most statistical catagories—in rebounds (52 to 48), offensive rebounds (13 to 7), turnovers (Spurs gave up nine to the Kings 15) and biggest of all, points in the paint (44 to the Kings 28). Sacramento never trailed by more than 12 or so until the final minutes, but the Spurs continued to maintain the lead thanks to all the little things.
- San Antonio legend Tim Duncan had an atrocious shooting night, going 3-13 from the field for 10 points, but he did have nine boards and six assists.
- Rookie Ben McLemore was impressive for Sacramento, and looked oddly comfortable on both ends of the floor even when the veterans didn’t. He did get into foul trouble late in the first half, and that limited him to nine points on 4-7 shooting
- Travis Outlaw was the one bright spot for the Kings bench, finishing with 13 points on 5-9 shooting. Meanwhile, San Antonio’s bench outscored the Sacramento bench 46 to 21.
- Royce White saw his first playing time in the closing minutes for the Kings, although he finished with no statistics.