The San Antonio Spurs (60-19) clinched home court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs and extended their winning streak to three games Wednesday night, with a 124 to 92 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings (23-55) came into the AT&T Center on a two game winning streak as they’d just beaten the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
This game was a tale of two halves for the Spurs as they struggled in the first two quarters and set a new season high offensively in the second half.
Going into halftime, the Spurs narrowly led the Kings 51 to 49. The Spurs would make a complete one-eighty as defense and ball movement sparked the Spurs to outscore the Kings 73 to 43 in the second half.
The Spurs came out sloppy to begin the third quarter as they turned the ball over on their first possession and allowed Kings guard Francisco Garcia to make two three pointers early.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili began a Spurs rally as he threw a full court pass to Antonio McDyess who dunked the ball backwards with two hands. The Spurs lead began to grow as they went up 68 to 61 with 6:34 left in the third quarter.
With six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Ginobili gave the Spurs their first double-digit lead as they went up by ten points.
A fast break Tony Parker to George Hill layup added to the Spurs lead which had grown to 15-points with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Hill continued to flourish in the sixth man role as he scored 12 of his 19 points in the third quarter. He made a three pointer with 30-seconds remaining and the Spurs lead had grown to 20-points.
At the end of the third quarter, the Spurs led 92 to 70. The Spurs set a season high for points in a quarter by scoring 41 points and only missing three shots (14-17 FG). The defense also improved as they held the Kings to just 21-points.
After the game, Coach Popovich commented on his teams’ main focus.
“We’ve been concentrating on the D(efense).”
Ginobili (25 points) kept the Spurs offense on a roll as he made two three pointers early in the fourth quarter and even blocked a layup by Kings guard Tyreke Evans. At the 8:31 mark, the Spurs led 100 to 79.
The play of the night came in the fourth quarter as Ginobili threw a behind the back pass to DeJuan Blair for a monster throw down-dunk.
With 2:58 remaining in the game, Spurs forward Tiago Splitter made a turn around hook shot. The Spurs led 114 to 89 and all players in uniform were able to play in the game.
As Spurs guard Gary Neal said after the game, “If you have a good shot, probably the next guy has a great shot.” In referring to the teams strong passing and chemistry on offense.
Gary Neal and Danny Green hit consecutive three pointers to end the game. The Spurs scored 32-points in the final quarter and the defense once again held the Kings to just 22-points.
After the game Neal was asked if he felt his teams defense has improved.
“It seems that way, Coach Pop will never tell us that publicly.”
After the game Coach Popovich commentated on his team’s performance.
“I was real impressed with our guy’s focus coming out tonight.” A reporter asked him about the Spurs’ playing harder in the last three Spurs wins, Pop responded, “They’ve been playing hard to the end the last ten games.”
- The Spurs hit 12 of 19 three pointers for 63% shooting from behind the arc.
- Five Spurs players scored in double figures: Ginobili (25), Hill (19), Parker (15), Neal (14) and Duncan (12).
- The Kings were led by Tyreke Evans who had 16 points on 15 shot attempts.
- The Kings came in ranked fourth in the NBA in rebounding, yet the Spurs outrebounded them 48 to 38.
- Every player on the Spurs’ active roster scored except for forward Steve Novak.
- The Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Lakers later in the evening to help the Spurs clinch home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
- The Chicago Bulls (57-20) are only two games behind the Spurs in the standings for the best record in the NBA.
- After the game, Manu Ginobili tweeted “Today we clinched the #1 in the West. Now going 4 the league’s 1.”
- The Spurs have a two-day break and will play the Utah Jazz Saturday evening in San Antonio. The Jazz recently defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night.