Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings – Game #56

In the first game after the All-Star break, the San Antonio Spurs put up a good fight against the Sacramento Kings before ultimately losing by a final score of 127-122. The loss dropped San Antonio to 11-45, while Sacramento improved to 32-23.

For the first quarter and a half, it was a back and forth affair between the Spurs and the Kings. Sacramento took control of the game heading into halftime and remained in the lead for almost the entire second half. However, the Spurs were able to stay within striking distance.

Early in the fourth quarter, San Antonio trailed by nine points. Showing no quit, the good guys battled back. With three and a half minutes remaining, Keldon Johnson hit a three-pointer to tie the game. Less than 90 seconds later, a Devin Vassell three-pointer gave the Spurs a four-point lead.

Sadly, with two minutes left in regulation, the Kings went on a 9-0 run. They hit clutch shots and executed well down the stretch. As has often been the case this season, San Antonio’s youthfulness was painfully obvious down the stretch.

All in all, though, I thought the Spurs played well. They battled on both ends and put themselves in a position to steal a road win.

Stats: Spurs at Kings

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Spurs at Kings – Final Grades

Victor Wembanyama

The best news of the night was that Wembanyama looked refreshed and reenergized after the week off from competitive basketball. He shot only 1-for-6 from three-point land but otherwise he was solid. Defensively, he was all over the place. He had five blocks, five steals and countless intimidations. His perimeter defense was lacking at times but the rest of his defensive play was stellar. Offensively, Wembanyama’s overall crispness was excellent. He had only one turnover while authoring a number of smart passes. The rookie ran the court hard, finished well and flashed a healthy amount of competitiveness. On both ends, his rebounding was really good. Let’s hope Wembanyama has broken through the rookie wall and can finish out his rookie season in style.

Grade: A

Devin Vassell

Offensively, Vassell couldn’t have done much better. His shot-selection was great, which played a major role in him shooting 5-for-5 in the first quarter and 8-for-9 in the first half. Adding to his offensive value was his outstanding passing. Vassell was making the right decisions, even when he was heavily defended and on the move. It’s fair to say Vassell’s precision on offense was the main reason the Spurs were able to hang with the Kings. Defensively, I wouldn’t classify this as anything but an average performance — but his offensive showing was good enough to forgive any defensive shortcomings.

Grade: A

Jeremy Sochan

Sochan had his moments in Sacramento. He had some powerful finishes and deft drives. He knocked down threes and kept his mistakes to a minimum. Sochan probably called his own number too often and could have passed the ball more but it was good seeing him aggressive. Defensively, he was much more of a letdown. Sochan’s main job is to be San Antonio’s top perimeter defender but he failed to make much of an impact on that end against the Kings.

Grade: B-

Tre Jones

Jones played his role well enough for the Spurs to win. He could have pushed the pace even more but his passing within halfcourt sets was really good. An efficient ten points to go along with nine assists in 30 minutes is an acceptable night at the office for Jones. Defensively, he gave effort but his lack of size was definitely an issue for much of the evening. The Kings were able to shoot over him or go around him with relative ease.

Grade: B-

Julian Champagnie

Champagnie looked sharp coming out of the All-Star break. He knocked down a pair of three-pointers and had a thunderous dunk in his 17 minutes. His rebounding and passing were also better than usual. Defensively, there were times when he didn’t play with enough speed or athleticism, which resulted in Champagnie giving up uncontested shots.

Grade: B

Keldon Johnson

Johnson was quietly very productive. He scored 18 points on only 12 shots and handed out three assists without turning the ball over in 31 minutes. Johnson was also sturdy on the defensive glass and could usually be found hustling somewhere on the court. Even though he was playing with a lot of force, he kept everything within the gameplan. Defensively, he had a couple unfortunate fouls but otherwise did more good than bad on that end.

Grade: A-

Zach Collins

The good: Collins’ passing was a plus. He anticipated well when dishing out passes and didn’t turn it over despite being risky with a couple of his deliveries. The bad: Man, the rest of Collins’ outing was frustrating. He attempted to protect the rim but he failed to do that — especially in important moments. He also struggled to grab contested rebounds and hit only 1-of-4 shots from the field.

Grade: D+

Blake Wesley

Wesley’s playmaking was decent and he had a couple of positive defensive possessions but he just wasn’t active or demonstrative enough at either end. On defense, he has to be more frenetic. On offense, he has to be more involved. Making the defense bend with his speed is his primary strength at this stage of his career — and we saw almost none of that against the Kings.

Grade: C-

Malaki Branham

Branham wasn’t terrible but he rarely moved the needle in the right direction. Defensively, he was usually a step slow despite being mentally engaged. Offensively, I liked his gumption but his execution was erratic. Overall, Branham’s tenacity level was a step in the right direction … but more tangible production is needed.

Grade: C-

Cedi Osman

After Osman entered the game, it didn’t take him long to leave his mark. A three-pointer, a layup and an assist to Wembanyama helped get the Spurs going. Despite the positives, Osman only ended up playing 11 minutes. In retrospect, the Spurs would have been better off if he had played more minutes. He cooled off after the quick start but his assertiveness was useful.

Grade: B+


Pop had some new wrinkles in his playcalling and it worked out really well. He helped get the Spurs a lot of easy shots and Wembanyama was involved early and often. The rotation was mostly fine. Then again, more minutes for Osman or Champagnie and less minutes for Branham probably would have given the Spurs a better chance of winning.

Grade: B