Sacramento, CA – DeMarcus Cousins sat out with a sprained left ankle and bruised left hip. Without him in the lineup the Kings were unable to contain the San Antonio Spurs who ended their four-game skid behind a revived Tony Parker. Sacramento lost their second game under new head coach George Karl behind Parker’s aggressiveness in the fourth quarter.
“Tony played great,” said Spurs head coach Greg Popovich. “He got to the basket, he shot open jumpers, he distributed the ball. He was what we’re used to seeing from Tony Parker.”
Parker came out his slump to power the Spurs past the Kings 107-96. He scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kawhi Leonard added 17 points and seven rebounds posing problems for Rudy Gay who had 16 points and 8 turnovers that proved costly.
“He got off to a great start, but Kawhi Leonard is a good defender,” Karl said. “Rudy didn’t have a bad game, we just maybe forced the flow to him too often. He made a few mistakes, but I don’t think we would’ve even been in that game without Rudy. Rudy was a big part of why we hung around until the fourth quarter.”
“They didn’t make any mistakes; we made a bunch of mistakes,” said Gay. “I made most of them to be honest with you.”
Sacramento got off to a great start leading by as much as 10 points but the turnovers in the end were too much. The Kings shot 49 percent but had 17 turnovers. Ben McLemore scored 21 points and Ray McCallum who started in place of Daren Collison (out with a right hip flexor strain) had 20 points.
Karl warned his team that a struggling San Antonio team meant nothing and that they were still the defending NBA Champions. He explained that a four-game skid was merely their way of playing “possum” until they move further up the Western Conference standings.
“I think they’re playing possum,” Karl said. “They’re still a championship team and I don’t care how many games they’ve lost, they know how to play playoff basketball and I’m sure they’re looking to move up the Western Conference.”
The Spurs became more aggressive in the fourth while the Kings were cooling off. Carl Landry who started in place of Cousins picked up his fourth foul late in the second quarter. San Antonio never trailed in the second half and kept their lead to six until Parkers layup with under six minutes for the 93-86 lead.
“Yeah, much better execution down the stretch,” said Tim Duncan. “Defensively, I thought we were much better tonight. Actually got stops. Got some boards and turned it into transition points for us. Just good to get a win, good to get off the slide a little bit there and get a win and hope we build on that.”