San Antonio Spurs 130, Sacramento Kings 102: Hollow victories
AT&T CENTER — The San Antonio Spurs rebounded from a disappointing loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, their first home game after the Rodeo Road Trip, by beating the Sacramento Kings 130-102. Overshadowing anything the Spurs could’ve gained in their victory over the Kings, San Antonio lost Tony Parker to a left ankle injury in the second half for an unknown amount of time.
“He’ll be out a while. It was a good one,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.
With the Spurs up 79-59 more than halfway through the third quarter, Parker streaked downcourt on a fast break and scored a layup over a pair of Kings players. When he came down, though, Parker landed on the foot of Sacramento guard Isaiah Thomas. [Update: Actually, Parker’s right foot came down on or near Thomas, but TP’s left ankle turned on the floor. Thanks for the tip, Wayne.] Play continued on the other end and Parker made an attempt to stand back up, but then went back to the floor.
Eventually, the Spurs secured a defensive rebound and called timeout. DeJuan Blair and Spurs athletic trainer Will Sevening helped Parker up and guided him to the locker room. The official word from the team was a sprained left ankle.
The result of the game was hardly in question by the time Parker went down. The Spurs built a 19-point lead in the first quarter and never trailed in the game. They were on cruise control for most of the game and eventually went up by as much as 36 points.
DeJuan Blair led San Antonio with 16 points, marking his second straight solid game (Blair scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds against the Suns on Wednesday). Another seven Spurs scored in double-figures as well as San Antonio spread the ball around to the tune of 41 assists on the night. Manu Ginobili led the team with a career-high 15 assists off the bench.
Ginobili had arguably his best game of the season against the Kings. He had a strong first half with seven points, seven assists and two steals before the break, and came back in the second half to play just as well. Ginobili moved well without and was active defensively. San Antonio will need that type of play to continue with Parker out.
“To have 15 assists is pretty impressive,” Coach Pop said. “He played a really solid game.”
Indeed Ginobili played well, but the ship this season has been steered by Parker. And with his injury, doubts should be raised about the Spurs’ ability to clinch the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. What seemed inevitable with how the Spurs were rolling along this season, San Antonio could easily slip to the third seed by the time Parker is back on the floor.
Seeing as this Spurs team plays 8.46 points per 100 possessions worse when Tony Parker is off the floor this season, his absence, however long it may be, is significant. These Spurs have weathered missing players here and there throughout the season, but an extended stretch without the player this offense is so meticulously built around could be problematic.
We’ll know in some amount of hours how severe the sprain is. It could a matter of games before Parker is back in the lineup, darting between defenders and finishing at the rim. Or, it could be a significant enough injury to alter the matchups the Spurs encounter come playoff time.