Fri, Mar 21
Sleep Train Arena - Sacramento, California
By ALAN FERGUSON, Associated Press
Judging by their dominance in the series, the San Antonio Spurs would appear to have an ideal chance to post their longest win streak in three seasons and add to their league-best record with a visit to Sacramento.
The Kings, though, have provided two competitive matchups this season and will try to make the Spurs work for a 12th consecutive win Friday night.
San Antonio (51-16) has won eight in a row and 29 of 32 over a Sacramento team that's 13th in the Western Conference. The Spurs' 10-game road win streak against the Kings (24-44) is tied for the NBA's longest active run versus one opponent.
If it adds to that success, San Antonio would have its first 12-game win streak since Nov. 1-24, 2010, and would stay at least 1 1/2 games in front of Indiana and Oklahoma City after Friday's play.
The Spurs, though, have needed a pair of comebacks to earn their wins over Sacramento this season.
They trailed by 10 points late in the third quarter of a 95-93 home win Feb. 1 but played without Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. San Antonio was healthier when it hosted the Kings on Dec. 29 but needed to outscore them 13-2 in the final 3:20 for a 112-104 victory.
The Spurs enter this game after what coach Gregg Popovich considered a subpar defensive effort. His club didn't put away the lowly Los Angeles Lakers until outscoring them 33-22 in the fourth quarter of a 125-109 road victory Wednesday.
"Probably the only thing I liked is that they hung in there," Popovich said. "I thought we played really porous defense. I thought a lot of that was because L.A. was very aggressive. They were in attack mode, and I don't think we adjusted to it until maybe the end of the third quarter. From that point, I thought our defense was very good."
The Kings have lost five of seven but will be seeking a season high-tying third straight home win after a 117-111 overtime victory against Washington on Tuesday. Isaiah Thomas led the way with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double.
DeMarcus Cousins was one of two other Kings to score 24 points in his return from a one-game absence due to tendinitis in his right knee, helping Sacramento rally from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
"I like the fact that we didn't quit. We didn't roll over," coach Michael Malone said. "The worst kind of team you can be associated with is a team that just quits and doesn't care. I'm proud we didn't stay in that mode. We got back to being an aggressive team. There's a lot of positives to be taken from tonight."
Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds in the December matchup with San Antonio but sat out February's meeting because of an ankle injury. Thomas is averaging 26.5 points in the two games against the Spurs.
Tim Duncan had 23 points and 17 rebounds in San Antonio's win Feb. 1 and Ginobili scored 28 in December, his second-most this season.