Culture of Hoops

Battle of the Benches: Kings 95, Spurs 92

Screen capture courtesy of the NBA/YouTube.

Screen capture courtesy of the NBA/YouTube.

The Sacramento Kings finished their second preseason game with a win over the San Antonio Spurs, starting the preseason 2-1.

One of the keys to the Kings success was finding offensive consistency in both their starting lineup and bench play. While the starters were able to stretch the lead early, it was the reserves that finished the game strong.

The Spurs decided to rest not only Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, but also gave their own coach, Gregg Popovich a DNP – Old (unofficially), as well.

No surprise to Spurs fans, frequent rest has been a common occurrence over the years to keep players healthy for the regular season grind and playoff hunt. The reserves for the Spurs were ready and stepped up largely in place of the missing stars.

Somehow, the Spurs were able to keep it competitive for the most of the game. Sacramento lacked energy, direction, and cohesion in the first half. Shooting just 42.5% and turning the ball over 13 different times.

Rudy Gay was still shooting hotter than ever, finishing the first half with 18 of his 26 points. DeMarcus Cousins chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.

The real highlights of the evening came in the third quarter as Sacramento’s starting lineup began to gel and it was Rajon Rondo leading the team.

This was easily Rondo’s best game as King, finishing the night with 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists, nearly notching a triple-double in preseason action.

“That’s what I know he can do. Obviously, it’s just a matter of time,” mentioned small forward Rudy Gay. “He will definitely be the floor general we know he can be.”

Tonight also saw LaMarcus Aldridge and David West in action for the Spurs. Capping off the game with eight and five points respectively.

Something else Kings fans are immediately excited about; in the final eight minutes of the third quarter Sacramento locked in defensively, holding the Spurs to just seven points to close the third quarter, stretching the lead to nine.

The fourth quarter saw action for both David Stockton and Seth Curry. Stockton finishing the night with four boards and four assists. While Curry hit a nice floater after driving by Reggie Williams.

The Kings were able to survive a late fourth-quarter comeback attempt by San Antonio. Being outscored 25 to 17, Willie Cauley-Stein saved the game, grabbing a key offensive rebound with 23 second left. Then playing both sides of the ball, Stein found himself out on the perimeter of the three-point line contesting the final shot of the game to seal the victory.

When asked about his comfort level with the NBA style of play, Willie didn’t neglect his natural energy on the court. “Just go out there and play hard. The rest will fall in place.” That is exactly what the young rookie did tonight.

The Kings take on the Portland Trail Blazers at home this Saturday. A rematch from their first preseason game earlier this week. Look for more tinkering with the lineup as the Kings are continually trying to gain consistency with each other.

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