The annual Rodeo Road Trip is off to a bad start for the San Antonio Spurs, and the club is feeling the urgency.
San Antonio aims to record its first win on the eight-game trek when it faces the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night in the fourth contest of the excursion.
The Spurs (22-29) are just 8-17 on the road this season and are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff race, which isn’t the best of situations.
“Plenty of time left, but not plenty of time left,” shooting guard DeMar DeRozan told reporters after Thursday’s 125-117 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. “We’ve got to go out there and play with desperation.”
The loss to Portland was a double dose of misfortune for the Spurs.
The Trail Blazers are also on the outside of the postseason derby as the Memphis Grizzlies (26-26) currently hold the eighth spot. But Portland (24-29) is ahead of San Antonio, and Thursday’s win gave it the tiebreaker edge for winning two of the three regular-season meetings.
The Spurs put heavy emphasis on the contest and DeRozan says now is not a time for head-hanging.
“There’s a couple of us fighting for that spot,” DeRozan said of the No. 8 position. “It’s going to come down to the last game. We’re not going to let down. We’re not going to quit.”
Sacramento (20-31) has won back-to-back games and five of its last seven, but isn’t considered part of the mix. The Kings have missed the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons.
But Sacramento displayed a strong showing on Friday when it scored a 105-97 victory over the visiting Miami Heat.
The Kings made 19 3-pointers — two shy of the franchise mark set against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 30 — with three players combining for 16 of them.
Starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic made six 3-pointers and scored 23 points, while backup shooting guard Buddy Hield (21 points) and power forward Nemanja Bjelica (15) each made five. Bjelica also matched his career best of eight assists.
The Kings were prepared to see a lot of zone from the Heat, and Bogdanovic was ready to attack it as 44 of the team’s 82 field-goal attempts were from behind the arc.
“My experience is just to move the ball,” Bogdanovic said in a postgame television interview with NBC Sports California. “Just simple, keep it simple. Whomever is open has to be ready to shoot it.”
Bogdanovic has certainly been on the mark in seven games since being inserted into the starting lineup. He has scored 23 points in each of the past two games and in three of the last five.
Hield has been less than thrilled with the switch to reserve but he has four 20-point efforts during the stretch, including a career-best 42 points in an overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 27. He has made five or more 3-pointers in five of the seven games.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox recorded 16 points and eight assists on Friday. In the previous three games, Fox averaged 29.7 points and topped 30 on two occasions.
He certainly has the attention of Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray.
“It’s another day, another opportunity to compete with the best,” Murray said of going up against Fox.
Murray has had two 1-for-7 shooting performances in the past three games. Meanwhile, forward Trey Lyles is coming off his best game with the Spurs after scoring a season-high 23 points and collecting 10 rebounds in the loss to Portland.
San Antonio won the first meeting between the teams on Dec. 6, defeating the visiting Kings 105-104 in overtime.
–Field Level Media