The San Antonio Spurs home woes continued with a 132-115 loss at the hands of the Sacramento Kings. The Spurs are now 1-4 on their nine-game homestand. Instead of making hay at home, San Antonio has stumbled into the weeds. The Kings, on the other hand, won their fifth straight game and seventh of their last eight.
Give Sacramento credit for playing really well on offense. They were loose, shot the lights out (18-for-36 on three-pointers) and every player who entered the game played with supreme confidence. That said, San Antonio could play much better on defense. The Kings only had to run a few plays because the plays were successful over and over and over again.
With five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Spurs were down 18 points, 91-73. The good guys scratched and clawed until they got within three-points with nine and a half minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, the Kings responded with a 12-2 run that essentially turned the lights out at the AT&T Center.
Obviously, Sacramento’s three-point shooting accuracy made it difficult on the Spurs. But even more than that, rookie Tyrese Haliburton was devastatingly impactful for the Kings. The player selected after the Spurs picked Devin Vassell 11th in the first round had 15 points and ten assists — and there were stretches where he was the most unstoppable player on the court.
Spurs vs. Kings: Final Grades
It was a tale of two halves for Murray. In the first half, he was phenomenal. Going into halftime, he had 21 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. Sadly, his aggression fell off a cliff in the second half, as he rarely looked at the basket. Murray was strong in a lot of areas, as his numbers suggest. But his uneven play offensively and his lukewarm defense held down his value.
Passing-wise, DeRozan was fine. His court vision was excellent and he made wise decisions when giving up the ball. The rest of his game wasn’t too impressive, though. His shooting was inefficient and he uncharacteristically shied away from contact at times. DeRozan’s D was also sub par.
The good: White looked better going to the basket. He launched three-pointers at an acceptable rate. His vivacity was a plus on defense. The bad: White’s defense wasn’t actually that effective. He was energetic, sure, but it too infrequently led to positive plays for the Spurs. Offensively, his playmaking was again missing in action. His scoring total was also inflated by a few trash buckets late.
Poeltl is another player whose statistics paint a prettier picture than reality. Fifteen of his 17 points came in the first half. Though he was really strong on the boards and he was challenging a lot of shots, his overall defense just wasn’t that good. The Kings put him in pick-and-rolls and had way too much success against someone who is regarded as a defensive specialist. On offense, Poeltl went from a major asset in the first half to a bit of a liability in the second half.
Johnson wasn’t involved for much of the game. Some of that was on his teammates for not passing him the ball but most of it was on Johnson for being oddly inactive and subdued. Eventually, Pop called plays for him to get him going — and the second-year player showed signs of life. Overall, though, he needs to be better on both ends for the Spurs to have success.
Mills only had a decent-ish affair. He was a try-hard on defense but he got overwhelmed by size and/or athleticism too often. Offensively, Pop was drawing up a lot of plays for Mills but the Australian only sporadically produced.
Gay had a really rough first half. He was making mistakes on defense and wasn’t doing much right on offense. He got going a little bit in the second half. In the fourth, he had a big shot and a highlight reel pass. The ending wasn’t happy, though, as Gay seemed to run out of gas at some point in the final period.
With the signing of Gorgui Dieng, this will likely be Eubanks last game as part of the regular rotation for a while. If that’s an accurate assumption, Eubanks leaves on a high note. He had a couple miscues but his athleticism, explosiveness and fearlessness were welcomed attributes on this night. He was often in the thick of things during runs.
With Haliburton stealing the show, Vassell wasn’t able to capture much of the limelight. He had a handful of heady plays on defense but he was too willing to stand around in the corners on offense. When he had opportunities to take matters into his own hands, Vassell deferred.
The good: San Antonio’s run was jump-started when Pop decided to force-feed Johnson on offense. That resulted in points on one end and a lot more intensity on the other end. Good coaching. I also didn’t have a problem with the rotation for the most part. The bad: Pop never found counters to the plays the Kings were running. While it was nice to see him run sets for Johnson for a stretch of time, Pop eventually went back to running plays for Mills — and those didn’t pay much in the way of dividends. In retrospect, he probably should have brought DeRozan back sooner in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs won’t have to stew for long. On Wednesday, they play these same Kings once again. Let’s hope the Spurs can snap that royal winning streak.