Take a moment to process what head coach Gregg Popovich has just done. Two spans of eleven game win streaks in the same season, not losing once at any point during either of San Antonio’s back-to-backs, and somehow, the Spurs are half-a-game up on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for the one-seed. All with a team everyone wrote off as old and incapable of lasting 48 minutes with the younger, faster teams in the NBA.
Last night, Popovich’s Spurs tacked on a 127-102 win over the Sacramento Kings, and finished their three-game road strip without any problems. Three straight blowout wins in three nights, and all San Antonio needs to do is keep buying in to Popovich’s system.
Now the Spurs were by no means dominant throughout the entire game, Sacramento wanted to prove they could beat the Spurs a second time in one season. The Kings were physical down at the low post, and forcing San Antonio to earn their points at the free throw line. San Antonio did end up shooting about 80% from the charity line, but Sacramento’s strategy to protect the paint was a not a terrible one. San Antonio is a notoriously poor free throw shooting team, so Sacramento tried to gain every advantage possible.
April 18, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas (22) is fouled on the play against the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter at Power Balance Pavilion. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Sacramento Kings 127-102. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
However, San Antonio may have finally figured out a very underrated Kings front court. Sacramento has played the Spurs well in both of their prior match-ups, and their front court was very instrumental in their early season win at the AT&T Center. San Antonio didn’t necessarily shut down Cousins and Thompsons, but rather limited them in the same way they prevented Andrew Bynum from taking over Tuesday night.
Although, give credit to another great shooting night. The Spurs shot 58% from the field on 47-80. San Antonio was cold in the first half from beyond the arc, but the Spurs made up for missed shots with a 39-point performance in the third quarter.
Coming out of halftime, Popovich put Parker and Ginobili in position to start pouring it on after they were both given about a quarter each of playing time. With Tim Duncan sitting on the bench, 2/3 of the Big Three ignited the silver and black attack. With plenty of fast break opportunities caused by lazy passing by the Kings, San Antonio got out on transition and capitalized.
Some credit has to be shown to Isaiah Thomas, though. Just a rookie, and he lead all scorers with 21 points. Wednesday was a promotional night for Thomas’ Rookie of the Year campaign. Honestly, Thomas is a valid candidate. He hustles every play, always looking for that open man, and San Antonio has seen in multiple times what this kid can do for Sacramento. His numbers, though, are what’s holding him back, much like San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard from winning the title awarded to the best rookie in the Association.
Regardless, San Antonio dominated again, and head in to a prime time match-up with the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night at the AT&T Center. Spurs will have a day off to prepare for what should be Black Mamba’s return.
Game notesThe Spurs made 67.8 percent of all their shots … Sacramento converted on 50.6 percent … Sacramento grabbed five more offensive rebounds than the the Spurs; they were, however, outrebounded by four … DeMarcus Cousins scored 18 points on 9-of-21 shooting but he recorded six personal fouls, marking the seventh time this season he has done so … Isaiah Thoms scored 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting with eight assists … Thomas also got the line nine times (he converted on eight) … The Spurs shot 66.1 percent on 2-pointers … The Spurs dished out 26 assists … They’ve surpassed 25-plus assists for the 21st time this season … Kawhi Leonard (13 points, five boards, four assists) led the team with a plus-20 … After staring Duncan and Splitter on Tuesday; Pop went with Diaw and Blair …