SAN ANTONIO — The Spurs ended a five-game losing streak on Friday night, beating the Kings 113-104 in a game with huge playoff implications for both teams.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for San Antonio with 25 points, Dejounte Murray hit mid-range shot after mid-range shot, while Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV attacked the basket at crucial points. Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl both finished with double-digit scoring as well.
With the win, the Spurs moved to 32-34 on the year, which puts them 2.5 games up on the Pelicans and 3.5 games up on the Kings. San Antonio's magic number fell to four earlier in the evening when the shorthanded Pelicans fell to the 76ers, and this win dropped it to three.
Any combination of three Spurs wins or New Orleans losses will get the Spurs to the play-in. It's poor timing and bad news for the Pelicans, the NBA as a whole, and Zion that he broke a finger and will be out indefinitely.
The Kings gave a good fight in what their announcers called one of the most important games for Sacramento in the last 15 years, but San Antonio closed and secured a much-needed win.
San Antonio opened the final period on a 14-3 run to retake the lead and force a few Kings timeouts.
Jakob Poeltl pumped, drew a foul, finished the layup and the free throw. Rudy Gay pulled up from mid-range, then Dejounte Murray got to his spot at the free throw line for his own.
Murray grabbed an offensive board, then kicked it to Gay at the arc.
Dejounte caught at the arc, took a methodical dribble forward, pulled up and drilled it from the free throw line again. Then he hit Poeltl for a rolling dunk to put the Spurs up eight.
Gay posted up for a turnaround j that he nailed over a defender. Murray ran pick and roll, got the defender on his hip and banked it in at the basket.
Terence Davis scored again for the Kings, and Pop called time up seven with just under seven minutes to play.
DeRozan got free throws, then Murray faked and nailed another elbow jumper to extend the lead to 11.
Murray ripped a steal, but the Spurs couldn't convert. Richaun Holmes rolled in for a scoop through contact, hitting the free throw. DeRozan missed, and the Kings drilled a transition three.
Murray made a bad pass that Moe Harkless took and dunked on the wrong rim, making it a quick 8-0 run to cut San Antonio's lead down to 100-97.
Davis scored in pick and roll, then decided to clap in DeRozan's face before getting blown past and giving up free throws.
DeRozan drove and dumped it off to Lonnie Walker IV for a finger roll to put the Spurs up four.
Buddy Hield gave up his dribble at the arc, had no room, leaned hard and somehow hit it.
Dejounte hit yet another middie, and after a Spurs' stop, Walker jab stepped right, exploded left, and finished another finger roll to make it 107-102.
Sacramento turned it over, and Walker drove in again, hanging in the air and banking it off the glass and in.
DeMar DeRozan and Lonnie Walker IV each took shots that they came up limping from, but they both stayed in the game.
Keldon Johnson made a few very difficult layup attempts through contact, contorting his body at the rim and showcasing deft touch.
Buddy Hield pulled up and drilled a deep three to put Sacramento up 68-67. Pop called timeout, but the Kings extended their run to 9-0 and pushed their lead to 72-67.
Hield hit another triple, Delon Wright cut to the rim, and the lead grew to eight.
Devin Vassell knocked down a big corner three, then flew in for a steal, but gave it away in transition.
Dejounte got back in the game, and immediately drove for a mid-range jumper. On the next possession, he drove all the way in for a difficult lay in.
Rudy Gay hit a jumper at the end of the quarter, and the Kings led 81-78.
Rudy Gay opened the second quarter with a catch-and-shoot triple to push San Antonio's lead to 28-21. Devin Vassell attacked off a catch, got to his spot, and drained a paint jumper.
Sacramento went on a 6-0 run, cutting their deficit to one and forcing a timeout from Pop.
Dejounte Murray hit a slick crossover and drained it from the baseline. Then he found Jakob Poeltl for a jam. Richaun Holmes had an answer each time.
Patty Mills, who has been in a shooting slump lately, stepped back and drained a long two. Murray continued to drill difficult mid-range shots. Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV each drove in for a tough scoop layup.
Buddy Hield drilled a three off the bounce to make it a 7-2 run for the Kings, giving them their first lead of the game at 47-46. Pop called timeout to talk it over.
DeMar DeRozan took it right into the paint, finishing a tough layup. Then he pulled up and hit a mid-range jumper. Then he drove through contact and kissed it off the glass over two defenders.
San Antonio took a 52-49 lead into halftime.
Lonnie Walker IV started for the Spurs, and he was the fifth starter to score after San Antonio started 4-4 from the floor.
Dejounte Murray pushed the pace and broke down the defense, driving for a layup before assisting on a three by Keldon Johnson and a floater by Jakob Poeltl.
DeMar DeRozan got to his spots for mid-range jumpers, and fooled Kings defenders into sending him to the foul line. He led all scorers with 8 points as the Spurs built a 19-9 lead.
Former Spur Chimezie Metu crammed an alley-oop, leading to a timeout from coach Popovich. The Kings were able to cut it to 25-21 at the end of the first quarter.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings
When, where: Friday, 9 p.m., Sacramento
All-time series record: Spurs lead 123-60
Last season: Spurs won 2-1
Season series: Series tied, 1-1
Last meeting: Spurs won 120-106, March 31, 2021
Kings' last game: Won vs. Pacers, 104-93
Spurs' last game: Lost vs. Jazz, 126-94
Kings' last 10 games/streak: 7-3, won 4
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 4-6, lost 5
Kings' injury/inactive report: Chimezie Metu, OUT (back); De'Aaron Fox, OUT (COVID-19 protocols); Harrison Barnes, doubtful (groin); Robert Woodard II, OUT (back); Tyrese Haliburton, OUT (knee).
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Trey Lyles, OUT (ankle); Derrick White, OUT (ankle).
Spurs blown out by Jazz 126-94
The Utah Jazz made quick work of the Spurs on Wednesday night, using a 17-0 run between the first and second quarters to open up a 20-point lead they never looked back from, winning 126-94 to sweep the season series.
The starters couldn't stop Utah, even without two All Stars, but they scored enough to keep things close. The bench unit got shredded as Jordan Clarkson put up a game-high 30 points. The pair of Patty Mills and Rudy Gay each played 7 minutes in that first half, scored 0 points, and got outscored by 14.
They didn't see the floor after that, as coach Gregg Popovich let guys like Luka Samanic, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, and Drew Eubanks play heavy minutes in the blowout. Nobody shot well, but those four guys led the team with double-figure scoring.
After the game, Pop said he liked what he saw from those young guys in terms of their execution and competitiveness. He said that he rested the veterans because they had no chance of winning the game, and noted the schedule, travel, overtime games, and tough losses as reasons this team is having a hard time right now.