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PREVIEW: Seeking fifth straight victory, Sacramento Kings out to corral San Antonio Spurs

Mar 27, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes (40) celebrates with guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) and guard Buddy Hield (24) after scoring a three point basket at the buzzer to win the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The surging Sacramento Kings will look for their season-high fifth straight win Monday when they square off against the enigmatic San Antonio Spurs in the first of a two-game mini-series between the teams in the Alamo City.

The Kings head to San Antonio after a thrilling 100-98 win at home against Cleveland on Saturday in which Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer after catching a near-court length inbounds pass from De’Aaron Fox to produce the victory.

“(Barnes) kept his composure,” Kings coach Luke Walton said of the winning shot. “He had enough time on the clock. As the ball got to him, he was into his pivot and he was nice, calm and relaxed, and made the shot.”

The Kings’ four-game winning streak matches their high of the campaign.

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“Once I was able to see some daylight and it left my hand, I thought it was going to be good,” Barnes said about his winning shot. “Just to be able to celebrate with my teammates, to have that joy, I think that kind of embodies where we’re at as a team right now. Not only are we winning, but it feels like we’re building something.”

All five Sacramento starters scored in double figures in the win, led by Fox with 36 points — including 20 in the fourth quarter.

Barnes added 16 points and 11 rebounds, Tyrese Haliburton hit for 13 and Richaun Holmes and Buddy Hield scored 10 each. Holmes also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.

Monday’s game is the fifth of a franchise-longest nine-game homestand for the Spurs and comes after San Antonio snapped a four-game losing streak with a 120-104 win over Chicago on Saturday.

The Spurs played nearly flawless basketball for the first two and a half quarters in Saturday’s win, building a 36-point lead while shooting better than 65 percent over the first 31 minutes of the game.

But then the new-look Bulls — using four of the five players they acquired at the Thursday’s trade deadline — found their stride while San Antonio stumbled, and Chicago cut the Spurs’ advantage to as few as nine points with 5:13 to play.

San Antonio righted the ship well enough the stagger across the finish line. Seven San Antonio players scored in double figures in Saturday’s win, led by Jakob Poeltl’s career-high tying 20 points.

“We haven’t been great on offense the past couple of games,” Poeltl said. “We’ve been playing slow, so we just wanted to come out and be aggressive. Everybody did their part. We were sharing the ball, and I think that’s the best way to play.”

DeMar DeRozan hit for 17 points, Derrick White and Patty Mills scored 16 each, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson had 14 points each, and Rudy Gay added 11 for the Spurs. San Antonio had 29 assists in the game, with Murray, DeRozan and White teaming for 22 of those with just four turnovers.

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“When we’re moving the ball, getting good looks, we’re a really good team,” White said. “Sharing it, looking for one another, driving for a teammate, stuff like that is always good for us.”

Saturday’s win was the 1,300th in the regular season for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who became the fastest ever to reach that milestone. Popovich, in his 25th year at the San Antonio helm, trails only Lenny Wilkens (1,332) and Don Nelson (1,335) on the list of winningest NBA coaches in the regular season.

–Field Level Media