Exactly a month after Manu Ginobili suffered a devastating injury, he would return to the lineup. His return would give the San Antonio Spurs the spark they needed to edge out a stubborn Sacramento Kings team to stay perfect at home.
Ginobili scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting to help lead the Spurs to a 104-94 win over the Kings at the AT&T Center on Saturday night to improve to 30-0 at home.
Kawhi Leonard had a team-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, while David West added 12 for San Antonio, who was missing three starters.
“What happened on the court was very unexpected,” Ginobili said. “When (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) told me I was going to play a few minutes, I said, `Great.’ It’s OK if I don’t shoot, I just want to play, and then the game developed like that. It felt good.”
Tim Duncan and Danny Green sat out the game to rest and LaMarcus Aldridge missed the game with a migraine headache. Boris Diaw started in Aldridge’s place and scored 11 points in 30 minutes.
San Antonio used a 12-0 run in the third quarter to build a 17-point lead. The Spurs outscored Sacramento 29-13 in the period and despite a late run, would hold on for the win.
The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins’ 31 points and nine rebounds. Quincy Acy added 16 and Darren Collison chipped in 12 off the bench for Sacramento (25-36), who are fighting for their playoff lives.
The Silver and Black used aggressive defense to start the second half. While on their 12-0 run, they did not allow Sacramento to score until midway through the third quarter.
“I didn’t think three of their starters were out,” Sacramento coach George Karl said. “Pop rotates that team, if Danny Green isn’t giving it, someone else will give it. It’s a bunch of revolving pieces.”
The Spurs are now 53-9 on the season and will hit the court on Monday night when they travel to Indianapolis to face the Indiana Pacers at 6 p.m. inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.