San Antonio Spurs 108, Sacramento Kings 103: The bat came back, the Kings came close
AT&T CENTER–Tempting as it was, with the crowd screaming in anticipation of another Manu Ginobili moment, the San Antonio Spurs starting shooting guard politely opted–for once–to let the crowd down.
There would be no bat slaying tonight, at least not from Ginobili. Eight rabies shots over the course of a month and an earful from PETA is enough of a lesson for any man. Instead Ginobili had to settle for swatting away a Sacramento Kings team hovering far too close for the Spurs liking.
“I was not gonna get close to that thing. It came close a couple of times, but I said, ‘No, I’m not it,” said Ginobili. “I took eight shots last time, and I’m not going to repeat that. Somebody else. That was painful, uncomfortable.”
The only pain and discomfort for the San Antonio Spurs tonight would be in their performance itself, a sloppy affair that resulted in a 108-103 victory that had more to do with their opponent, the Sacramento Kings, than their play.
A disappointing win Manu called it, if there ever could be such a thing. The Spurs will not make any apologies, but they will not be satisfied either.
“There was a little sloppiness. We were not as aggressive as we usually are and we were just kind of waiting for things to happen,” Ginobili said. “We didn’t go get the win and take it, we just waited.
“Against some teams it’s going to happen and you’re going to get them, but I don’t think it will against any of our next three opponents. We have to get back to the way we were playing two weeks ago.”
In an 82-game season, especially approaching the finish line against a team like these Sacramento Kings, these are the kind of games that will happen. A look down the box score and everything seems familiar, which is a testament to the talent the Spurs possess, but dig through some tape and you will find that the Spurs were just, for lack of a better word, off.
Not by much mind you, as the starting backcourt of Tony Parker (27 points, six assists) and Manu Ginobili (24 points, seven assists) were highly productive. But only 19 assists measured against 14 turnovers for the Spurs in a game where there seemed to be a lot more.
More than the turnovers, the passes consistently missed their mark, landing near the feet or to the side of each Spurs player spotting up, just outside of their shot pocket, stalling whatever ball movement the Spurs may have generated while reaching for the pass.
That, and a less than focused defense, is how a team that shot nearly 50 percent from the field and just shy of 45 percent from the three-point line could find itself in a fourth quarter contest with a team like the Sacramento Kings.
After the game Popovich was livid. And as much as reporters needed to ask about the bat returning with Sacramento, no one wanted to ask it. Popovich made damn sure no one repeated it in his presence. A brief two remark statement and then off to catch a plane to Houston.
“Coaches are always concerned about execution from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Popovich said.
On a team like the Spurs, a victory is not good enough. Because the team will play Houston tomorrow, a team fighting for a playoff spot. And if their execution is anything like it was tonight, the Spurs will have more than PETA barking down their throats.