San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs vs. Kings recap, reactions: Young core shines on Pop’s birthday

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 26: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs honors the National Anthem before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 26, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 26: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs honors the National Anthem before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 26, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Head Coach Gregg Popovich was greeted with a birthday surprise from the San Antonio Spurs young guard duo of Bryn Forbes and DeJounte Murray, who combined for 37 points in the 113-98 victory over Sacramento.

Head coach Gregg Popovich’s 69th birthday marked his 21st as head coach of the Spurs. Tonight he led the team to their 33rd win and their 21st at the AT&T Center this season.

The Spurs serenaded Pop with Happy Birthday in the postgame locker room. Patty Mills says he did not sing. "I was a backup dancer."

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 29, 2018

Just a week ago, veteran Tony Parker was sent to the bench in favor of the emerging Murray. After more than a decade of Parker leading the Spurs’ rotation, Murray has taken the mantle and has yet to disappoint.

In the four games following this decision, Murray has put up an average of 13.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Tonight against rookie phenom De’Arron Fox, Murray notched his fourth double-double of the year with 14 points on 6-6 shooting to go with 10 boards and six assists. Using his athleticism and high IQ, Murray is surely proving that he’s worth the starting position.

Alongside Murray on the wing was Bryn Forbes, who scored a team-high 23 points and tied his career-high in three-pointers made with five. After beginning the game taking various floaters and mid-range jumpers, Forbes’ true talent as a deep-range threat emerged. This was an area of concern early in the season, as Forbes became timid and inconsistent from behind the arc. Now midway through the season, he’s returned to form as an elite shooter and daunting task for opposing defenses.

Quick Popovich reaction … gave major props to Dejounte and Bryn Forbes #Spurs pic.twitter.com/YLcFNalFQQ

— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 29, 2018

Despite trailing by one point at halftime, San Antonio managed to outscore Sacramento by 16 points in the second half. Their stellar ball-movement and unselfishness resulted in 33 assists as a team, improving their record to 11-0 when assisting on 27 or more shots in a game.

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While it wasn’t particularly easy for all-star LaMarcus Aldridge to find his rhythm, the veteran made his presence known. He finished with 15 points on 6-17 shooting in addition to his seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

Aldridge matched up with big men Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos, whose size and strength on the low block forced him into tough shots. Even so, Aldridge’s five offensive rebounds were key in the Spurs’ dominant night on the glass. They outrebounded Sacramento by 18, including 13 snagged on the offensive glass.

Sacramento’s killer three-point shooting kept them in the ballgame, accounting for 18 of their 34 made field goals. Fox made and hit all six of his three-point attempts to lead his team. The fifth pick in the 2017 draft scored a career-high 26 points on 53.3 percent shooting. Fox was able to consistently create opportunities for the Kings by pushing the tempo and draining crucial jumpshots throughout the night.

The NBA’s oldest active players traded buckets for four quarters, as guards Manu Ginobili and Vince Carter flashed back to the mid-2000’s. Ginobili, who returned from a thigh injury that sidelined him for six games, scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds in 25 minutes of play.

Carter, on the other hand, provided a much-needed spark for the struggling Kings. He finished with 21 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes. Carter, who ranks seventh in all-time three-pointers made, hit five of seven attempts from behind the arc.

Manu Ginobili (15 PTS) and Vince Carter (21 PTS, 6 REB, 5 3PM) put on efficient performances in an entertaining match-up of veterans! pic.twitter.com/hUVPC5ocZx

— NBA (@NBA) January 29, 2018

As the third-ranked team in the Western Conference, San Antonio was clearly favored in this game. With that being said, this was a much-needed beatdown for the struggling Spurs. They suffered what may be their worst loss of the season to Philadelphia just days prior, but were able to bully Sacramento into another win.

Highlights

DJ beats the clock. pic.twitter.com/FnOs3ahr63

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 29, 2018

Manu Gonna Manu. pic.twitter.com/kdQgbFumHU

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 29, 2018

Manu. Bryn. ? https://t.co/KTFvzH2JDc

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 29, 2018

Patty knocks down the three to put us up 102-89 with 3:35 to play. #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/71QDbb6qmE

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 29, 2018

Dejounte tonight:

14 points10 rebounds6 assists? https://t.co/Ofr2FWH5V2

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 29, 2018

Next: San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge joins Team LeBron for All-Star Game

San Antonio will continue their homestand against Denver on Tuesday evening. As Ginobili makes his return, this team will grow confident. They’ll hope to ride this momentum into a fresh week of games, including a marquee matchup with Houston on Wednesday.

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