After getting back on track with a win against the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs looked to build some momentum with the return of Rudy Gay on Saturday night.
The Spurs are very much a team searching for a new identity this season, and while parts of that identity are coming into focus, a rash of injuries has made the task a bit harder.
Against the Rockets on Saturday night, the Spurs were without Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, and Jakob Poeltl in addition to pre-season scratches Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV.
Gay and Poeltl returned Monday against the Sacramento Kings, and while the Spurs as a whole looked rusty, Gay’s impact was immediately noticeable against a Sacramento team that looks more dynamic and dangerous than they have in well over a decade.
The Spurs were a step slow from the opening tipoff. Derrick White scored the team’s opening points, but San Antonio missed a number of open shots and fell behind early.
Gay and DeMar DeRozan kept the Spurs within striking distance throughout the first half. A late second quarter run saw the Spurs close the gap, and the Spurs ended the half with a balanced stat sheet led by Gay’s 10 first half points. The Kings led by one, 56-55 at halftime.
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The second half was largely more of the same. DeRozan scored 12 in the third quarter, but the Spurs shot 2-of-9 from deep and trailed by one point gong into the fourth.
With 5:08 remaining in the final quarter, LaMarcus Aldridge hit a jumper to tie the game at 90-90, but the Kings responded with a 5-0 run and pulled away to close out the 104-99 victory.
DeRozan led the Spurs with 23 points in the losing effort on 8-17 shooting. Aldridge scored 14 points and grabbed 18 boards for the double-double, and Rudy Gay added 14 points in his return to action.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Kings with 20 points.
The Spurs were horrendous from behind the arc, shooting 10-31 on the night, but that number is favorable considering they were only 7-28 for 25% before going 3-3 from deep in the final minute of the game.
The Spurs fall to the Kings in Sacramento and have now lost 3 of their last 4 games. It also snapped San Antonio’s 14-game winning streak over the Kings pic.twitter.com/lBAgZmh1yg
— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) November 13, 2018
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With the loss, the Spurs’ record drops to 7-4. They’ll try to get back on track Wednesday at Phoenix. Tip-off is at 8:00 PM CST.