Behind 13 fourth quarter points from Marco Belinelli on Friday, the San Antonio Spurs were able to extend their winning streak to 12 games with a 99-79 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Though it was a rough shooting night for the Spurs (38.7%), they were able to put the ball in the basket more frequently in the fourth, by outscoring the Kings 30-22, as six players finished with 10 or more points against the physical Kings. Here were some keys to the Spurs’ 52nd victory over the season.
‘Beli’ to the rescue (also gives input on Italian Food)
As the Spurs headed into the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead, it was Belinelli, who helped them push their lead to 16 points quickly in the fourth. Belinelli scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter. In a variety of ways, Belinelli shot 5-of-8 in the fourth, including making one of the Spurs’ two 3-pointers in the quarter. A few of his scoring plays came off cuts when his defender, Travis Outlaw, would turn his head and look at the basketball. Of his 12 shots, eight were uncontested, where he made the Kings’ defense pay by him making 5-of-8 of those looks.
After the game, Belinelli was interviewed by Sean Elliot and Bill Land of the Fox Sports Southwest broadcast team. There were a few entertaining nuggets in the interview. First, Belinelli called him and Manu Ginobili “M & M.” Then he said Ginobili’s helped explain things to him in this season because Ginobili can speak Italian. Lastly, Elliot asked Belinelli about the difference between Italian food in San Antonio, and back home in Italy. Belinelli said in San Antonio the restaurants put too much onion and garlic. He finished with his quote about him eating pasta during the season.
“I can’t eat (pasta) during the season, or else I become really fat.”
Kings defense + missing open shots = Rough scoring night for Spurs
Coming into the match, the Kings had the eighth ranked defensive rating in their last 10 games. It was a rough night scoring for the Spurs all-around as the team finished shooting 39%, and 5-of-25 from three. The Kings’ defense also limited San Antonio to nine transition points. Whether they were contested or uncontested looks, the Spurs had a tough night putting the ball in the hole. Half of the Spurs’ shots were uncontested, but they only shot 34% on those looks. Meanwhile, the team shot 38% on their contested looks. Due to the lack of made shots, the Spurs only finished with 18 assists, after they had come in during the winning streak averaging 30.0 assists per game.
Despite the fourth quarter (30 points), the Spurs’ offense was only able to generate no more than 24 points in each of the previous three quarters. However, despite the rough shooting night, the Spurs were a basket away from scoring over 100 points and they defeated the Kings by 20.
The machine continues to roll
Though the shooting percentages weren’t pretty, the Spurs still had six players finish with 10 or more points. Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Tony Parker and Ginobili provided 14 points apiece, Tiago Splitter scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Tim Duncan finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, and a team-high six assists. Two key areas why the Spurs were still able to win by such a wide margin was because of their play in the paint, as they outscored the Kings 44-28, and their hustle for extra possessions, as they outscored Sacramento 19-4 on second chance points. Of the Spurs’ 52 rebounds, 13 were off the offensive glass.
Will any player(s) rest Saturday against the Warriors?
Unlike some of their previous back-to-back games during the winning streak, the Spurs needed to play most of their core players down to the final minutes of the game Friday. With a matchup Saturday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich may elect to rest a player or some of his players, as he’s been known to do in the past on back-to-back nights. Here was a summary of some of the core player’s minutes.
Duncan: 33:52 minutes – Duncan played the most minutes of any Spurs player, while also having to guard the physical DeMarcus Cousins for a majority of the game. Duncan also ran the second most miles on the team (2.2).
Leonard: 30:54 minutes – Leonard was quite aggressive on offense and had to guard Rudy Gay a majority of the night. He ran the most miles of any Spurs player (2.3) in the game.
Parker: 28:03 minutes – Parker defended Isaiah Thomas mostly throughout the night, while also taking 15 shots, and delivering the second most passes for the team. Parker also tracked 2.1 miles in the game (third most on the Spurs).
Outside of the three players above, no other Spurs players played more than 23:31 minutes (Ginobili) in the game.
A look into the 12-game winning streak
During their 12-game winning streak, the Spurs are beating teams by an average of 15.8 points per game. The Spurs are scoring 112.5 points, shooting 49.4% from the field, 43.6% from three, collecting 29.0 assists, and only turning the ball over 13.8 times per game. Defensively, they’re holding teams to 96.8 points per game during the streak.
The Spurs are ranked first in Offensive Rating with 113.4 points per 100 possessions and ranked second in Defensive Rating by holding teams to 98.2 points per 100 possessions during the streak.
Spurs’ Big Three officially make history
On Thursday, the Spurs’ Public Relations department notified the media that the previous statistic of the trio of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili passing the Lakers trio of Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had been an error, and the Spurs’ trio was tied with the Lakers trio at 490 wins each. With the win over the Kings, the Spurs’ trio officially passed the Lakers’ group with 491 wins, placing them second most all time in wins by a trio. The Boston Celtics hold the most wins by a trio with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish totaling 540 wins together.
Where San Antonio Stands
- Regular Season: 52-16 (Lead the NBA)
- Road Record: 26-8 (Lead the NBA)
- Vs. Opponents with -.500 records: 29-2 (Lead the NBA)
- Vs. The Western Conference: 30-10 (Lead the Western Conference)
- Post All-Star Break Record: 14-1 (Lead the NBA)
- 29 of the Spurs’ 52 wins have been by 10 or more points
- The Spurs are 10-0 in the month of March.
- The Spurs are 21-0 when Tiago Splitter scores in double-figures.
- The Spurs are 13-0 when the team grabs 50 or more rebounds in a game.
(All Stats and Player Tracking data via NBA.com)