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.
A night more than a decade in the making is finally here. The Sacramento Kings open their brand new, state of the art Golden 1 Center Thursday evening when they host the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener.
Fresh off a 113-94 win over the Phoenix Suns, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and the 2016-17 Kings roster look to make it two in a row against one of the best the league has to offer.
Tim Duncan is gone, retiring this summer after 19 seasons in the NBA. But the Spurs come in loaded with talent and primed for another long playoff run.
Sacramento showed a new offensive and defensive scheme against the Suns. It’s a work in progress, but their opening night results showed promise.
Spurs by 8.5
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 1-0, first place in the Pacific
Spurs: 1-0, first place in the Southwest
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Rudy Gay vs. Kawhi Leonard -- Leonard has turned into the game’s best two-way player. He’s a perfect fit in Gregg Popovich’s offensive system and he is a one man wrecking crew on the defensive side of the ball. Gay is coming off an impressive opener where he scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He also came away with four blocks in 33 minutes. Sacramento needs another big game from Gay if they hope to stun the Spurs.
Kings: G Darren Collison (league suspension) out.
Spurs: G Danny Green (strained quad) out.
The Spurs swept the Kings 3-0 in the season series last year and have now won six straight against Sacramento. San Antonio leads the Kings 112-55 all-time and 84-39 during the Sacramento-era.
“I think the biggest difference is everybody is part of the offense. Obviously we have our guys can go get buckets, but when everybody has the freedom to attack and be aggressive and know that there’s time when we get ours, but for the most part, they need to be aggressive too.” -Rudy Gay