The San Antonio Spurs have been uncharacteristically up of late while mostly down this season, with their limited success over the first quarter of the campaign overshadowed by late game swoons, poor defense and inconsistent 3-point shooting.
There have been real signs of life, such as a win at home last week over the Los Angeles Clippers and Tuesday night’s 135-133 double-overtime victory against Houston.
The Spurs will look to build on those wins on Friday when they host the Sacramento Kings.
San Antonio withstood a 50-point game from James Harden and a triple-double by Russell Westbrook to eke out the victory over the Rockets after losing by 34 points in Detroit two days earlier. The Spurs lost 12 of their previous 15 games after starting the season with a 4-1 mark.
With his team trailing by 22 in the third quarter Tuesday, second-year guard Lonnie Walker IV sparked San Antonio’s comeback by scoring eight unanswered points to help the Spurs pull into a tie at 115 at the end of regulation.
Walker made 7 of 8 shots to score 19 of his career-high 28 points in the fourth quarter.
“It was confidence,” Walker said, when asked about his big fourth quarter. “My teammates kept me going and once I started feeling it, you know, I’m just going to let it go and play my game.”
Bryn Forbes (25) and DeMar DeRozan (23) finished right behind Walker in the scoring column. Rudy Gay and Derrick White added 14 and 12 points, respectively, in the win. Center Jakob Poltl, starting in place of the injured LaMarcus Aldridge, finished with a career-best 15 rebounds and a personal-high tying five blocks in 41 minutes.
“I think the whole team, with the schedule they’ve had, they deserve a lot of credit for just playing the game and hanging in there tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said
The Kings head to San Antonio on the heels of a 127-116 loss in Portland on Wednesday. Sacramento led late in the third quarter before the Trail Blazers took charge in the fourth.
Richaun Holmes scored a career-best 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting and collected 10 rebounds for the Kings. Buddy Hield recorded 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Sacramento, which dropped its 12th consecutive game in Portland.
“They made some shots to kind of break our backs there in the fourth quarter, but I feel like we competed all the way through,” Holmes said.
Nemanja Bjelica added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who have lost four of their past five games. Yogi Ferrell scored 13 points while Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph chipped in 11 apiece in the loss.
Sacramento played without Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring) and starters De’Aaron Fox (ankle) and Marvin Bagley III (thumb).
“A lot of what we built we built around having certain guys, and they haven’t been with us,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “That’s why I go back to giving our guys credit. They’ve adjusted, they’ve adapted, continued to work.”
The Kings won all three meetings between the teams last season to sweep the Spurs for the first time in franchise history.
–Field Level Media