SACRAMENTO -- Close, but no cigar. After pummeling the Phoenix Suns in the season opener on Wednesday night, the Kings gave the San Antonio Spurs everything they could handle on Thursday night, before eventually falling by a final of 102-94.
DeMarcus Cousins starred on the offensive end, but his defensive effort against LaMarcus Aldridge was a game-changer. Aldridge finished the night with 16 points on 5-for-13 shooting, while Cousins dropped in a game-high 37 points 16 rebounds.
Despite the noise surrounding his tenure with the Kings, Rudy Gay continued his strong early season play. The veteran forward scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 32 minutes of action. He did his best to limit Kawhi Leonard, but the Spurs star wing is playing at an elite level to begin the year.
Ty Lawson picked up his second straight start and came away with a defensive gem. The veteran point guard shut down Tony Parker, holding him four points on 0-for-6 shooting. Lawson managed to score seven points and hand out nine assists in 36 minute sof action.
Ben McLemore came out firing for the second straight game, scoring 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting in 11 minutes of action. But his short stint in the third quarter was cut short when Leonard stole the ball from him on consecutive possessions for breakaway opportunities.
Leonard led the way for San Antonio with 30 points, five assists and five steals. Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee did serious damage off Gregg Popovich’s bench. Dedmon went for 12 points, seven rebounds and blocked three shots. Lee filled in for Aldridge and came away with 12 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes.
STANDOUT PERFORMER -- Leonard was a beast. He’s the best two-way player in the game and he showed it Thursday night in Sacramento. Cousins was every bit Leonard’s equal, but the Spurs walked away with the win.
TURNING POINT -- San Antonio turned up the heat in the third quarter, holding Sacramento to just 3-of-17 shooting in the frame while outscoring them 23-14. The Kings found a way to tie the game up in the fourth, but the damage was done.
INJURY UPDATE -- Cousins took a beating in the third quarter. The All-Star big rolled his left ankle and was forced to leave the game for a short stint. Later in the quarter, Cousins caught an elbow to the face form Leonard, forcing the Kings to take a timeout. He remained in the game and finished strong for Sacramento.
WHAT'S NEXT -- The Kings return to their home court on Saturday evening to face a young, but extremely talented Minnesota Timberwolves squad. Following the T-Wolves game, the Kings embark on a five game road trip.
SAN JOSE – Three combined goals from Joonas Donskoi and Tomas Hertl, coupled with 24 saves from Martin Jones, pushed the Sharks to a 3-1 win over Columbus on Thursday at SAP Center.
Both of the Sharks’ goals before a late empty netter came from the second power play unit.
In the first period, David Schlemko found Joonas Donskoi wide open in the circle with a cross-ice pass, and Donskoi squeezed a wrist shot through Sergei Bobrovsky at 12:59. The goal was Donskoi’s first of the season.
Hertl increased it to 2-0 with 7:55 to go in regulation, with Jack Johnson in the box for tripping Patrick Marleau. A Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot hit Hertl in front of the net, and Hertl spun around and swept the loose puck through for what stood as the game-winner.
Schlemko assisted on both goals for his first two points in a Sharks sweater.
Scott Hartnell brought the Blue Jackets back to within 2-1 with 2:50 to go, when he redirected a Lukas Sedlak rebound over the line, but that was as close as the Blue Jackets would get. Hertl’s empty net goal with one second left capped the scoring.
The Sharks (5-3-0) improved to a perfect 3-0 at home, and swept the two-game season series with Columbus, including a 3-2 win at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 15.
Bobrovsky kept it 1-0 deficit for his club in the second period. He denied Joel Ward on a breakaway in the first minute of the middle frame after Justin Braun found him wide open at the blue line, and later robbed Brent Burns cutting towards the net when Chris Tierney’s pass through the slot gave the Sharks defenseman a glorious scoring chance with 12:16 to go.
Columbus’ best chance to tie it came with about six minutes left, when Hartnell missed a tap in after Burns gave it away to Sam Gagner in the defensive zone.
The Sharks seemingly increased their lead to 2-0 a little more than six minutes into the third period when Brenden Dillon’s heavy blast from high in the zone found its way in through traffic. A lengthy review showed that Chris Tierney was offside just before Marleau brought the puck over the blue line, however.
With the Sharks up 1-0, the teams went to their dressing rooms with 2:42 remaining in the second period after the lights illuminating the ice surface went dark. Power was restored, and they played the end of the second and the third period after the early intermission.
San Jose is 21-4-2 all-time against the Blue Jackets in San Jose.
For the second straight game, the Sharks failed to score an even strength goal into a manned net, but won anyway. They were a perfect 2-for-2 on the power play.
Columbus was 0-for-3 on the power play. San Jose is 18-for-19 on the PK over its last five games.
Jones was making his fourth straight start, and has played in seven of the first eight games. He is 4-3 on the season, and 2-2 in his career against Columbus.
Bobrovsky dropped to 5-4-2 in his career against San Jose. The former Vezina Trophy winner has played every game for the Blue Jackets.
Micheal Haley skated in his second straight game in place of Matt Nieto, who was again a healthy scratch.
The Sharks close out their homestand with Nashville on Saturday. It will be the first meeting since San Jose eliminated the Predators in seven games in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last May.