Game Recap: Sacramento Kings Cannot Withstand San Antonio Spurs In Loss


Everyone knew the Sacramento Kings schedule would be a major challenge during this first stretch of the season, but last season’s 9-5 start against similar competition gave reason to hope for the best.

The San Antonio Spurs put an exclamation point on how difficult the West actually is on Monday night, dismantling the Kings in the fourth quarter and winning the ball game, 106-88. Kawhi Leonard led the way for San Antonio with 24 points on 10 for 13 shooting and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points and 9 rebounds to a very balanced team effort against the Kings.

DeMarcus Cousins returned from a four game hiatus due to injury and got back to work, tallying 21 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 11 for 15 from the free throw line. Rajon Rondo played a career high 48 minutes, scoring 8 points and racking up 12 assists. In the last two games, Rondo has played a combined 93 minutes due to backup point guards Darren Collison and Seth Curry being out with injuries.

Nov 9, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) and Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) fight for possession of the ball during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Sacramento Kings 106-88. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The game was close for three quarters, with the score showing only a 3 point deficit going into the fourth quarter. The Kings played with heart and hustle through most of the game, and there was a sense of urgency and desperation that had been lacking in a few past efforts this season.

But reminiscent of last season’s all too common collapses, the Kings just could not withstand a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter that extended a 5 point deficit to 12. From there on the effort disappeared, the Spurs continued to play basketball, and the mental weakness that has defined the Sacramento Kings for so long came out to greet the fans at Sleep Train Arena. Many of them left, and I don’t blame them. The Kings finished the game by marking another tally under the loss column, which is their sixth straight loss.

In place of Darren Collison’s scoring, Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi stepped up. They combined for 33 points on 14 for 27 shooting off of the bench. Belinelli tallied 5 assists and Omri grabbed 5 rebounds to help the effort.

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But Rudy Gay continued to struggle, shooting 5 for 15 and scoring only 10 points while being hounded by reigning defensive player of the year, Kawhi Leonard.

In the game preview, I mentioned that Leonard would be a nightmare matchup for Gay during this stretch where Rudy has been uncharacteristically missing shots within his range. The nightmare became reality, and Rudy finished with a plus/minus of -31 that unfortunately matched Leonard’s +31.

The Spurs displayed everything that the Kings did not in the fourth quarter tonight. Even with the Kings putting up a fight throughout the game, San Antonio never backed down. They played defense, and stayed physical. They were physical enough to rack up 19 total personal fouls on the night–5 more than the Kings had.

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But it was the Kings players that stayed behind to argue with the referees and put their faces in their palms dramatically after each call, not the Spurs. The Spurs were persistent and tenacious on both ends of the court, no matter what calls went against them or what improbable shots the Kings knocked down. The Spurs were resilient, and the Kings were not.

A players meeting may need to take place if the Kings want to find any possible way to turn this ship around. No matter how difficult their schedule has been, they have too many skilled players with too much experience to be losing so many games early on. Players will need to put their egos to the side and hold themselves and each other accountable for the errors that have resulted in a 1-7 hole so early in the season.

Next: For the Kings, Its Time To Play The Blame Game

Winning teams are resilient, and resilience is what has been absent in Sacramento during the Vivek Ranadive era. The time is now for DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings to put their foot down and do away with the memories of past frustrations. It’s time to start winning basketball games.