fbpx

Spurs take momentum into game with shorthanded Kings

Sportsnaut
Dec 17, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV (1) shoots the ball against Utah Jazz center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV (1) shoots the ball against Utah Jazz center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs visit Sacramento on Sunday, but there are plenty of questions about just how many players will be able to suit up for the COVID-depleted Kings and even who will coach them.

The Kings have six players — including De’Aaron Fox, first-round draft pick Davion Mitchell and center Alex Len — as well as interim coach Alvin Gentry and several staff members in the league’s health and safety protocols.

The Spurs arrive after beginning a four-game road trip with a 128-126 win at Utah on Friday, snapping the Jazz’s eight-game winning streak. Lonnie Walker IV hit the decisive jumper with 14.9 seconds to play as San Antonio won despite trailing by as many as 17 points before halftime.

Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 24 points while Derrick White added 22 and Walker 19. Dejounte Murray had a triple-double (16 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) in the win.

“The play was for Dejounte coming off a triple screen,” Walker said of his winning basket. “I kind of identified it early that they were hard on him. They knew he was going to get the shot. It was just my time to do what I do.”

It was Murray’s fifth triple-double of the year; only two other players in Spurs history have had five triple-doubles in a season: David Robinson (1993-94) and Johnny Moore (1984-85).

“This is obviously a learning season, but I feel like we’ve got the talent and the group to be able to win games,” Murray said about his team, which improved to 11-17 with Friday’s victory. “We’ve proven that even with the games we lost.”

Seven San Antonio players scored in double figures in the comeback victory. The Spurs committed a season-low seven turnovers — none in the third quarter when they were mounting their comeback — and won their first game of the season when allowing 120 or more points.

The Kings will head back to the court after a 124-105 loss at home to Memphis on Friday in which Sacramento led by 15 in the second quarter but succumbed in a big way. All five starters scored in double figures for the Kings in the loss, led by Tyrese Haliburton’s 21 points and 10 assists.

Harrison Barnes added 20 points for Sacramento in its fourth loss in the past five games. Chimezie Metu, the Spurs’ second-round draft pick in 2018, started for the Kings and recorded career highs in minutes (36), points (18) and rebounds (11). Teammates Buddy Hield scored 15 points and Tristan Thompson 12.

“Tough one — tough one tonight,” Kings assistant coach Doug Christie said after the loss to Memphis. “Extremely proud of the compete level, though. That was one of the things I tried to emphasize before the game. Some of it was us, but give (Memphis) credit — they were physical, they got after it.”

Added to the Kings’ personnel woes is the continued absence of Richaun Holmes (eye), who missed his fifth straight game in the loss to Memphis, making Sacramento a shell of the team it’s supposed to be.

The Spurs have won three straight games against Sacramento.

–Field Level Media