SPURS GAMEDAY: Rudy Gay's comeback comes full circle

Rudy Gay, who signed with the Spurs in July, averaged 18.7 points in 30 games with the KingsĀ last season before sustaining a season-ending Achilles injry.
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Gameday at a glance

Spurs (22-11) vs. Sacramento Kings (11-20)
When, where:
Saturday, 9 p.m., Sacramento, Calif.
TV: KENS 5, 9 p.m.
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Spurs 118, Kings 102, March 19, AT&T Center
Spurs’ last game: Lost to Jazz 100-89, Thursday, Salt Lake City, Utah
Kings’ last game: Beat Nets 104-99, Wednesday, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Spurs’ last 10 games, streak: 7-3, lost one
Kings’ last 10 games, streak: 5-5, won two   
Notable: Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) is probable, and Pau Gasol (tightness, right groin) and Danny Green (tightness, left groin) are questionable for Saturday's game . . . The Spurs are the only franchise in the NBA that has a winning all-time record against every team in the league.

First-year Spurs forward Rudy Gay has said it many times since the start of training camp: “I’m just glad to be playing again."

Gay’s attitude is understandable. One of the NBA’s most consistent scorers at the small-forward position the past decade, Gay sustained a career-threatening Achilles injury 30 games into his fourth season with the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 18 

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Gay was driving to the basket along the baseline in a home game against Indiana when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon, collapsing to the floor in pain. He had surgery a few days later and was lost for the season. Gay already had scored 21 points against the Pacers when he went down with the injury in the third quarter.

One of the Spurs’ steadiest backup players, Gay will play his first regular-season game in Sacramento since his injury when the Silver and Black (22-11) meet the Kings (11-20) on Saturday night. The Spurs opened the preseason on the road against Sacramento on Oct. 2, but Gay did not play.

Saturday's game will be the fifth of nine Spurs contests televised this season on KENS 5, the official station of the Spurs. 

Gay made his debut with the Spurs four days later when they hosted the Kings in their second preseason contest.

“I’m excited just to a jersey on and go out there and compete,” Gay said then. “It’s so much more than basketball right now for me just to be able to play. It’ll be fun. It’s kind of bittersweet playing against Sacramento. But no matter who it was, I’d be excited.”

Gay averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals last season. After a grueling regimen of rehab work, Gay signed with the Spurs in July and has relished the opportunity to be back on the floor again.

Playing both forward positions, Gay has averaged 12 points, 5.3 rebounds and 23 minutes in 31 games with the Spurs. He gave the Silver and Black a boost off the bench in a 109-91 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, finishing with 12 points on 3-of-6 shooting, including 2 of 3 from the three-point line, in 26 minutes.

Gay has started five games, but it’s his contributions off the bench that have made him an asset to the team. Teaming with 40-year-old Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills, Gay gives the Spurs one of the most experienced benches in the NBA.

“We’ve had lineup changes from time to time, but one thing we have done and one thing that has been pretty consistent is our bench play,” Gay said. “People like Patty, people like Davis (Bertans), people like myself and Manu continue to pick this team up. We have to continue to do that.”

The Spurs are coming off a 100-89 road loss to Utah on Thursday in the second game of a back-to-back. Saturday night’s clash against the Kings caps a three-game trip for the Silver and Black, who opened the set with a 93-91 win over Portland.

Spurs All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) is probable, and Pau Gasol (tightness, right groin) and Danny Green (tightness, left groin) are questionable for Saturday night’s game.

Leonard scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in 20 minutes against Utah. The game was Leonard’s fourth since he returned from a quad injury that sidelined him for the first 27 games of the season.

Up next for the Spurs after Saturday’s game: vs. Brooklyn, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., AT&T Cente