by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Sacramento Kings went into the game in San Antonio with only nine players dressed for the game. Willie Cauley-Stein (right knee bone contusion), Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain), Frank Mason (partial tear plantar fascia), Malachi Richardson (ankle sprain), Garrett Temple (ankle sprain) and Georgios Papagiannis (unavailable due to coach’s decision) made for a very short bench. JaKarr Sampson was brought up from the Reno Bighorns for roster help.
If having only nine players did not make things tough enough, the Kings lost their coach two minutes into the game. Dave Joerger jumped up to protest the lack of a call from the officials and his knees buckled. Assistant coach Elston Turner reached out to help Joerger and to keep him from falling to the floor. At the encouragement of the Kings’ medical staff, Joerger walked under his own power to the visitor’s locker room.
The decision was made to for Joerger to sit the rest of the game out and let assistant coach Elston Turner coach the team. Reports later in the game confirmed that there was nothing seriously wrong with Joerger.
And now on to the game
The Kings fall behind by nine points early in the first quarter and it looked it might be a very long night for Sacramento fans. The Kings were down by seven as the second period began.
The Spurs increased their lead to 10 points early in the second quarter but then the Kings began chipping away at San Antonio’s advantage. By the time the second 12 minute period was over the Kings held a one point edge, 50-49.
The third quarter would prove to the Kings downfall as it has so many times this season. The Spurs outscored Sacramento 30-19 in the third period and they ended the quarter on an 8-0 run that would carry over into the final period.
San Antonio continued their run until it became a 12-0 run on the Kings which made it look like the game was over but someone forgot to tell De’Aaron Fox and George Hill. The two Kings guards continued to make incredible shots that kept the game reasonably close but in the end it was not enough.
The Spurs won the game 113-98 but the Kings could hold their heads high because they played hard under adverse circumstances.
- Second-year shooting guard Bryn Forbes was the Star of the Game for the Spurs on Sunday night. He came off the bench to lead San Antonio in scoring with 23 points shooting 9-for-15 overall from the field and hitting 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Forbes had a +16 rating during his 27-plus minutes of playing time.
- Manu Ginobili came off the bench in first game back after being off for injury to post 15 points in 25-plus minutes on the floor. He put in 6-of-13 field goal attempts. He also grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists.
- Best supporting player award goes to Patty Mills who just kills this reporter every time. Late in the game as the Kings were trying to mount a comeback, Mills sank back-to-back 3-point buckets that killed that potential comeback. Mills finished with 11 points hitting 4-of-6 field goals with three of those baskets being 3-point field goals.
- Star of the Game goes to De’Aaron Fox who recorded a game-high and career-high 26 points in the contest. “Swipa” hit a perfect 6-for-6 from 3-point land. He was as Dan Patrick would say – “en fuego!”. For a player who would never be able to shoot the 3-ball in the NBA according to scouting experts, Fox sure seems to have figured out how to hit from long-range.
- George Hill may be on his way out of Sacramento but do not accuse him of laying down on his team. He came off the bench to score 19 points shooting 6-for-11 overall and hitting 3-of-6 from downtown. He also dished out four assists. Talk about making yourself more valuable in a trade situation. Hill gets a Co-Star of the Game credit.
- Special Guest Star credit goes to Vince Carter. The future Hall of Famer recorded 21 points coming off the bench converting 5-of-7 3-point opportunities. Carter also grabbed six rebounds in his almost 27-minutes on the floor. The 41-year old had +5 rating for his playing-time on the versus the Spurs.
San Antonio (33-19)
- The Spurs shot 50-percent from the floor hitting 45-of-90 field goal attempts in the game.
- San Antonio out-rebounded the Kings 52-34. The Spurs had 13 offensive rebounds to SAC’s six offensive rebounds. The Spurs outscored the Kings 16-9 in second-chance points.
- The Spurs had an incredible 33 to 7 assists to turnover ratio. The seven San Antonio turnovers became 13 Kings points.
- The Kings shot an unbelievable 52.9-percent from 3-point land hitting 18-of-34 attempts. Fox hit 6-of-6 while Carter went 5-for-7 from behind the line.
- Sacramento turned the ball over just nine times which became just nine Spurs points in the game.
- The Kings shot 90.9-percent from the free throw line. They only went to the line 11 times but they converted 10 shots.
The Kings wrap up this long six-game road trip on Tuesday night in New Orleans. Of course, the drama is gone because of the devastating season ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins.
The Spurs will stay at home and host Denver on Tuesday night.