SAN ANTONIO – The last time the Sacramento Kings played at the AT&T Center, they led by 28 points in the second quarter before the Spurs stormed back for a 10-point victory.
Sacramento jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter Sunday night, but by halftime, the Silver and Black had taken control and were well on their way to breaking out of a two-game skid with a 118-102 rout at the AT&T Center.
The Spurs (53-16) were ahead 89-74 after three quarters and led by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter, when their reserves played the entire period. The Kings, who finished 0-4 against the Spurs this season, dropped to 27-42.
Backup center Pau Gasol scored 22 points and six other Spurs finished in double figures.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively, and Kawhi Leonard had a season-low 12 points. The other San Antonio players scoring in double figures were David Lee (11), Patty Mills (10) and Jonathon Simmons (10).
Parker had missed four consecutive games with stiffness in his back before he started against Memphis on Saturday night. Parker made 8 of 10 shots and dished out a game-high seven assists in 20 minutes Sunday night. He jump-started the Spurs in the second quarter, hitting 6 of 7 shots and scoring all 12 of his first-half points in the period.
"I didn't want to play him quite that many minutes, but he wanted to get a few more because he felt like he was really starting to feel comfortable," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So we did."
Parker said he felt "good" after the game, adding that he strained his back and had to sit out to let it heal.
"It's not going to be like a chronic thing," he said. "It's just that I strained something."
Parker hit three consecutive baskets twice in the second quarter. He had his entire game going, scoring on three drives to the rim and three consecutive jumpers.
Parker probably would have been held out of Sunday's game for rest, if he hadn't missed so much time with the back injury.
"We talked about it before the game," Parker said, referring to a conversation with Popovich. "I was like, I need to get back in shape. I didn't play for 12 days (before Saturday). I was like too much rested. That goes against you sometimes. That's why I told him I wanted to play and I wanted to be out there and get a rhythm because the playoffs are coming."
Gasol praised Parker's performance and his command of the offense.
"Yes, you'd expect the first game back for him to be kind of rusty, but tonight he was really aggressive," Gasol said of Parker, who scored only four points in the loss at Memphis. "He was effective. He made plays for himself and also got into the late. He was also able to kick the ball out and make plays for others. He made key passes to the players, so it was really good to see."
Leonard also singled out Parker's game and leadership on the floor.
"It was great," Leonard said. "I mean, he got us easy shots and open looks. He just made it easier for all of us."
Gasol, who has come off the bench since returning from a broken left hand Feb. 24, hit 7 of 11 shots, including 2 of 2 from the 3-point line, and grabbed nine rebounds in only 20 minutes.
"I think we got into them a little more despite the slow start," Gasol said. "They started off really well and really hot, then we got into them more and that made all the difference. It relieved some pressure off our offense, then we moved the ball well, we made unselfish plays and at the end we got a good flow. Then we finally got a nice offensive effort."
Ahead 27-21 after one quarter, the Kings shot 54.5 percent (12/22) in the first quarter and was 3 of 3 from beyond the arc in the first 12 minutes. They cooled off considerably in the second period, shooting 36.4 percent (8/22), although they were 75 percent (3/4) from the 3-point line.
The Spurs outscored the Kings 37-22 in the second quarter to take a 58-49 halftime lead.
"We did a good job tonight," Popovich said. "We didn't turn it over. We moved the ball well. I thought we were really aggressive at both ends of the court. Came back after a couple of losses well."
Eight of the Silver and Black’s last 13 games of the regular season are at home. San Antonio plays the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in Minneapolis, and hosts the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
The Silver and Black shot 49.4 percent (43/87) and were 11 of 28 (39.3 percent) from the 3-point line. They had 31 assists on their 43 field goals. Every player who suited up for San Antonio scored.
Popovich talked about the 31 assists and how making the extra pass helps the Spurs get "good-to-great" shots.
"You know that's something that we haven't done well as well as I would've liked as consistently as I would've liked," Popovich said. "But we'll keep hammering at it, and hopefully by playoff time good-to-great (shots) will be something that we're doing very well."
Kings coach Dave Joerger praised the Spurs and singled out Parker and Gasol.
"It was a good experience for our young guys," Joerger said. "They are tough to beat at any time. Tony Parker had a terrific game. The lesser of the evils with Tony Parker is to try to keep him out of the paint and see if he will shoot some jumpers. He really shot it well, and Pau had a tremendous night. They come at you in waves and waves, and they did a great job."
San Antonio played without Manu Ginobili (rest) and Dajounte Murray (left groin).
Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield each scored 18 points to lead Sacramento. The Kings shot 49.4 percent (41/83) and were 7 of 10 from the 3-point line.
Eight of the Spurs’ last 13 games are against teams that would be in the playoffs if the postseason started Monday, including defending league champion Cleveland and two-time defending Western Conference champ Golden State. They also play Memphis (twice), Oklahoma City, Utah (twice) and Oklahoma City. All eight games are at home except the one against OKC.
Here is a quarter-by-quarterback breakdown of the Spurs' 118-102 win over the Kings on Sunday night:
Final: Spurs 118, Kings 102. Pau Gasol leads seven Spurs in double figures with 22 points. The Silver and Black break out of their two-game skis and improve to 53-16, and Sacramento drops to 27-43.
Fourth quarter (2:29): Spurs 118, Kings 94. The Silver and Black will break out of their two-game skid.
Fourth quarter (6:10): Spurs 111, Kings 85. Pau Gasol leads the Spurs with 22 points.
Fourth quarter (9:19): Spurs 101, Kings 81. Coach Gregg Popovich sat down all of his starters at the end of the third quarter.
End of third quarter: Spurs 99, Kings 74. LaMarcus Aldridge (18) and Tony Parker (16) lead the Silver and Black scoring. Pau Gasol (13), Kawhi Leonard (12) and David Lee (11) are the other Spurs in double figures.
Third quarter (4:11): Spurs 85, Kings 66. LaMarcus Aldridge (18) and Tony Parker (16) lead the Silver and Black scoring. Kawhi Leonard has 12 points.
Third quarter (7:48): Spurs 73, Kings 55. LaMarcus Aldridge (15) and Tony Parker (14) lead the Silver and Black scoring.
Halftime: Spurs 58, Kings 49
First-half notes: The Kings led 27-21 in the first quarter, but the Silver and Black outscored them 37-22 in the second to take a nine-point halftime lead . . . Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard lead the Spurs with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Parker scored all 12 of his points in the second period, hitting 6 of 7 shots. He hit three consecutive baskets for the Spurs twice in the period. LaMarcus Aldridge leads San Antonio on the boards with six rebounds. After shooting 28 percent (7/25) in the first quarter, the Silver and Black hit 45.7 (21/46) of their attempts for the half. They were 4 of 14 from the 3-point line. The Spurs had only one turnover in the first two quarters . . . Garrett Temple leads Sacramento with 11 points. The Kings shot 45.5 percent (20/44) in the first half, and were 6 of 7 (85.7) from beyond the arc . . . The Kings jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter, when they shot 54.5 percent (12/22) and were 3 of 3 from the 3-point line. .
Second quarter (4:37): Spurs 44, Kings 38. Tony Parker has scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the second period for the Silver and Black. Kawhi Leonard has 10 points for the Spurs.
Second quarter (9:52): Kings 31, Spurs 28. Tony Parker has scored back-to-back baskets for the Silver and Black.
End of first quarter: Kings 27, Spurs 21. The Silver and Black shot only 28 percent (7/25) in the first quarter. Sacramento shot 54.5 percent (12/22) and nailed 3 of 3 attempts from the 3-point line.
First quarter (5:29): Kings 16, Spurs 6. LaMarcus Aldridge has scored four points for the Silver and Black.
First quarter (7:05): Kings 14, Spurs 2. The Silver and Black are off to another slow start at home.
SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black seek to break out of two-game skid
Sacramento Kings (27-42) vs. Spurs (52-16)
Tipoff: 6 p.m., Sunday, AT&T Center
Kings’ last game: Lost to Thunder 110-94, Saturday, Oklahoma City
Spurs’ last game: Lost to Grizzlies 104-96, Saturday, Memphis
Season series: Spurs lead 3-0
Last meeting: Spurs 114, Kings 104, March 8, AT&T Center
Kings’ last 10 games: 2-8
Spurs’ last 10 games: 7-3, lost last two
Notable: Manu Ginobili (rest) and Dejounte Murray (left groin) are out for Sunday's game.
SAN ANTONIO – The Spurs lose back-to-back games about as often as it rains in San Antonio on consecutive days in July. It happens, but not very often.
That’s why it’s notable that the Silver and Black have lost two in a row three times this season, with the first pair coming at home in early November.
The Spurs (52-16) will try to avoid their first three-game skid of the season when they host the Sacramento Kings (27-42) on Sunday night. San Antonio rallied from a 28-point deficit to beat Sacramento 114-104 on March 8 at the AT&T Center. The comeback was the largest for the Spurs under coach Gregg Popovich.
The Silver and Black have lost three of their last five games after winning nine straight and rising to the top of the Western Conference. They fell to 0-2 against the Memphis Grizzlies this season with a 104-96 road loss Saturday night. The Spurs would play the Grizzlies in the first round of the postseason if the playoffs started Sunday.
San Antonio, No. 2 in the Western Conference standings, plays Memphis two more times in the regular season, with both games at the AT&T Center. The Grizzlies (40-30) are seventh in the West and trail Oklahoma City by a half-game and the Los Angeles Clippers by one game.
The Spurs figure to have a tough go of it regardless of who they face in the first round.
“It’s the West,” Ginobili said in a postgame video on the Spurs’ official website. “It’s been a while since we’ve had an easy one in the playoffs. We have to be ready and realize that whoever we play, it’s going to be tough.
“But that’s not what worries us. We just want to get better, play better, more consistently. That’s what we are going to focus on, not who we are going to play in the playoffs.”
The Spurs trailed Memphis 89-86 with 5:45 left Saturday night, but the Grizzlies secured the victory with a 9-1 run that gave them a 98-87 lead with 2:30 remaining.
San Antonio finished with 15 turnovers and shot 44 percent (44/75). The Silver and Black went into the game as the league’s best three-point shooting team but made only 9 of 28 attempts from beyond the arc. The victory was the fourth in a row for the Grizzlies, who nailed 13 of 30 shots from the three-point line.
Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs’ scoring with 22 and 21 points, respectively, but Jonathon Simmons (14) was the only other San Antonio player in double figures.
Point guard Tony Parker returned to the lineup after missing four consecutive games with a stiff back, but he finished with only four four points on 2-of-8 shooting and two assists.
Ginobili credited the Grizzlies for their aggressive play.
“It would be a little simplistic, but, of course, if you make shots, it makes everything easier,” said Ginobili, who will not play in Sunday's game. “But, overall, we were not very sharp. They played better than us. They were a little more aggressive, their offense was better. They made more shots, of course, and we were always one step behind. I don’t know what it was.
“For sure, we didn’t play well. It’s the second time we don’t play well here at all, so I guess it can’t be coincidence only, so we have to give them credit. They are a tough team. They’re physical. They got us out of our comfort zone. We give them credit, for sure, but at the same time we were not that lucid.”
Next up for the Spurs after Sunday’s game: vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Minneapolis
Next home game for the Spurs after Sunday’s game: vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m., Thursday