December 24, 2017, 12:11 am
The Spurs were just too good for the Kings on Saturday, taking the victory in Sacramento 108-99.
The Kings came out strong just like they did earlier in the week against the Nets. They jumped out to a 19-15 advantage over the Spurs who were missing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, but they’re still oozing with talent so it was an impressive start by the Kings.
However, the Spurs and Nets are drastically different teams so things were tightly contested for much of the first quarter. Both teams were trading baskets and playing fluent basketball, the first turnover of the game not coming until over seven minutes into the game.
The fact that both teams shot over 55 percent and only turned the ball over three times between them resulted in an entertaining first 12 minutes, with both teams knotted at 33.
The Kings cooled off a bit in the second quarter and the Spurs managed to build a lead heading into halftime. San Antonio certainly displayed their superiority in the closing minutes of the half taking advantage of a Kings team that went cold.
The Spurs had a 62-49 lead at the half led by LaMarcus Aldridge who had 17 points. Aldridge was being defended well by the Kings but he was making some tough shots, something he’s done all his career.
Things remained fairly steady in the third. The Spurs were visibly one step ahead the Kings and carried an 84-76 lead into the fourth quarter. Aldridge was still a problem for Sacramento adding eight third quarter points.
The Kings were shooting a decent clip at this point (48.4 percent) but the Spurs just kept making shots whenever they looked like going on a run and it held Sacramento at bay.
In the end the Kings just couldn’t get a significant run going to regain control of the game. There was a glimmer of hope when Leonard and Green were ruled out, but it was always going to be an uphill battle regardless for the Kings.
- Pau Gasol had himself a great game posting a triple-double. Aldridge stole the spotlight for most of the night so Gasol’s superb outing went under the radar. He finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists on 5-of-8 shooting.
- Aldridge was supremely dominant all night long for the Spurs compiling 29 points, 10 rebounds and two assists on 13-of-22 from the field and 2-of-3 from deep. The Kings had no answer for him and he may just be on his way to another All-Star game this season.
- Buddy Hield led the way for the Kings with 24 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes. He shot 9-of-17 from the field and 4-of-7 from downtown. Hield moved into the starting lineup for the first time since October and it was promising to see him carry his hot form off the bench into the starting unit. It’ll be interesting to see if the lineup remains the same moving forward with De’Aaron Fox (quad) out two weeks.
- Willie Cauley-Stein had one of his better games in recent weeks producing 22 points, 11 rebounds and three assists on 10-of-18 shooting. He was aggressive offensively and was making some nice plays. Zach Randolph had an off night so it was nice to see Cauley-Stein step up.
- The Spurs did what the Spurs did best and that’s passing the ball. Their assist-to-turnover ratio was sensational (29-to-8) compared to the Kings (19-to-10) who just couldn’t keep up. 10 turnovers isn’t bad, but it just won’t cut it for the Kings, especially against a team like the Spurs.
The Kings will now travel to Los Angeles for a duel with the Clippers on Tuesday. It was the Clippers who took the first meeting between the two teams in Sacramento, 95-97, in a game that the Kings certainly could have won.
Despite being without their best player, Blake Griffin, the Clippers will still be a tough team to beat. Austin Rivers has been on fire lately and guys like DeAndre Jordan and Milos Teodosic will be a handful. Sacramento has been playing better of late so keeping consistent with what’s been working for them should help them give LA a run for their money.