by Charlie O. Mallonee
Sacramento – The Kings stayed with the Spurs stride for stride in the opening quarter and played them to a 33-33 tie at the end of 12-minutes. The energy was high in the Golden 1 Center. Kawahi Leonard was declared unavailable due to injury management, so Sacramento fans felt their team was on a more even playing field talent wise.
They were wrong.
The Spurs outscored the Kings 29-16 in the second quarter as they shot 50-percent (11-for-22) from the field, hit 3-of-5 three-point attempts and converted 4-of-5 free throw attempts. San Antonio began a scoring drive at the 10:10 mark of the quarter and built up a 13 point lead by the time the horn sounded for halftime.
The Spurs went to the locker room at the half with a 62-49 lead over the Kings.
Sacramento came out in the third quarter knowing they had to make a run at the Spurs immediately. The Kings kept chipping away at the San Antonio lead and cut it to six-points twice. When the third period ended, SAC trailed by just eight points, 84-76.
Buddy Hield scored 10-points shooting 4-for-6 (including two 3-pointers) to lead the Kings 27-point scoring attack. Willie Cauley-Stein added eight-points.
The Kings needed to put together a run and cut the Spurs lead to five-points or less with two-minutes to go in the game to have a chance to win. That did not happen.
Former King Rudy Gay – who had previously not scored in the game – sank two jump shots and 25-foot 3-pointer in the opening 2:18 of the final quarter to help the Spurs rebuild a 14-point lead. The San Antonio lead would reach 15-points twice in the period which was too much for the Kings to overcome.
San Antonio won the game 108-99.
- Star of the Game: Paul Gasol – the Spurs 37-year old, 17-year NBA veteran – recorded a triple-double on Saturday night. Gasol scored 14-points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in just over 30-minutes on the floor. After the game Gasol said, “I have to give credit to my teammates. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to get the assists, so it’s a team accomplishment. Just happy it turned out that way tonight. It’s been a couple of years since my last triple-double.” (February 27, 2016 as a member of the Chicago Bulls)
- Co-star: LaMarcus Aldridge only gets a co-star billing for the game because he recorded just a double-double putting up a game-high 29-points and pulling down 10 rebounds. He also played a game-high 38-minutes and 33-seconds.
- Co-star: The final co-star for the Spurs is man who should probably be playing “wheelchair basketball” if you listen to “the experts” who say he should retire at the end of every season he plays. 40-year old Manu Ginobili evidently does not know he is too old to play in the NBA. On Saturday night, he scored 15-points in just over 21-minutes of playing time coming off the bench.
- Star of the Game: Buddy Hield was the Kings leading scorer with 24 points versus the Spurs on Saturday night. He played almost 32-minutes shooting 9-for-17 overall and 4-for-7 from behind the 3-point arc. Hield also hauled in eight rebounds in the contest. In what was also a major improvement, he committed no turnovers.
- Co-star: Willie Cauley-Stein posted his fifth double-double of the season as he scored 22 points and recorded 11 rebounds. Cauley-Stein shot 10-for-18 for the game and added three assists.
- Co-star: Bogdan Bogdanovic had a perfect shooting night as he was 6-for-6 overall and 3-for-3 from 3-point land. Bogdanovic played 28-plus minutes against the Spurs.
Key Team Stats
- Field Goal Shooting: 44-for-88 (50-percent) It’s tough to beat a team that is sinking half of its shots
- 3-point Shooting: the Spurs made 11-of-23 (47.8-percent) 3-point attempts. Six different players made 3-point baskets
- Free throw shooting: the Spurs went to the line only 11 times but the made nine free throws (81.8-percent) which helped them to win this game
- The Spurs also had a fantastic assists to turnover ratio. They dished out 29 assists and turned the ball over just eight times. That is very close to a 4 to 1 ratio with a 2 to 1 ratio being the goal
- Field Goal Shooting: 46.5-percent (49-for-86) which is respectable until you look and see your opponent shot 50-percent from the field
- 3-point Shooting: The Kings actually out-shot the Spurs from behind the 3-point line. They hit 12-of-22 3-point attempts (54.5-percent). Four Kings did all of their 3-point scoring – Randolph, Temple, Hield and Bogdanovic.
- Free throw shooting: the Kings went to the line just 11 times and converted just seven of those shots. They still need to get more attempts per game
- Assists to turnover ratio – The Kings finished with 20 assists and 10 turnovers or the magic 2 to 1 formula. It just was not enough in this case.
The Kings are done until after Christmas. Sacramento will return to action on Tuesday, December 26 when the team will travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers at the Staples Center.
The Spurs headed home after the game and will have Christmas Day off. San Antonio will host the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.