The Sacramento Kings thumped the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night, 132-115 in the first of a two-game road trip to San Antonio. The Spurs kept the game close until just before halftime, tied 60-all with 1:25 left to go in the second quarter. An 8-0 run in that final minute shifted the momentum in Sacramento’s favor for good.
Seven Kings, including all five starters, ended the game with double-digit scoring. Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Tyrese Haliburton (15pts, 10ast, 2stl) and emerging defensive stalwart Richaun Holmes (23pts, 12reb, 3blk) had double-doubles. Kings leading scorer De’Aaron Fox scored 24 points, his first effort with less than 30 since the Kings loss in Philadelphia on March 20.
The Spurs got a formidable defensive start from newly-elevated starter Jakob Poeltl (rhymes with turtle), who finished the game with 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. To that, he added a modest 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting, solidifying his case that he’s on his way up with the Spurs. Fourth-year point guard Dejounte Murray continued his success in the starting lineup, leading the Spurs with 23 points on 11-for-18. Veteran forward DeMar DeRozan struggled, shooting only 40% from the field and missing his only three-point attempt. Four of the Spurs starters and Rudy Gay off the bench ended the game with double-digit points, but it wasn’t enough.
STAR OF THE GAME
RICHAUN HOLMES stepped into the spotlight for the Kings on Monday. He kept up his recent defensive success with 12 rebounds and three blocks. Whereas his point total recently had been in the low-to-mid teens, against the Spurs he scored 23. De’Aaron Fox was still the leading scorer but didn’t dominate the scoring as he has recently. Holmes stepped up and added elite scoring to his resume to make up the difference.
THE KINGS as a team are the surprise this time. Nobody broke the bank in any statistical category, but three starters (Holmes, Hield, and Fox) had 20 points or better. All five starters, plus new additions Terence Davis (14) and Maurice Harkless (13) off the bench, finished with double-digit points. The Kings as a team had a big offensive performance that didn’t require De’Aaron Fox to make big shots to catch up in the fourth.
That being said, the surprise here is that, with the addition of the new components off the bench, the Kings won’t need to rely on De’Aaron Fox to beat good teams for them. The Kings are on a very promising winning streak. If they can continue to beat playoff-quality teams without career performances by Fox, they will make some waves in the NBA.
TYRESE HALIBURTON has struggled lately to make shots. He finished only 7-for-15 against the Spurs, and was 16.7% from the three-point line, making only one. His three-point stroke has been inconsistent at best over the last several games. In the big Thursday win against Golden State, he shot 6-for-7 from three. Since then he has put together outings of 20% and Monday’s 1-for-6. Of course, he’s still a rookie in this league and what he has shown is unlimited potential as a shooter. It’s too early to make any calls on Haliburton, but the Kings would become downright scary if ‘Burton could level off his 3P% to around 40.
Two of two in San Antone…
@ San Antonio Spurs, Wednesday, March 31st, 5:30 PM PT
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Ryan Dawley is a jack-of-all-trades writer, producing work in the fields of journalism, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, technical writing, and academic writing. He has been a fan of the Sacramento Kings since they snuck into the first round of the 1999 playoffs, when they nearly defeated the defending Western Conference champion Utah Jazz. His work for the Peach Basket has been covering all things Kings since February 2021. When he’s not writing, Ryan is usually absorbing the ins and outs of drawing, photography, and design; or he may be found thumping his bass guitar in front of the television. He was born and resides in Reno, NV.