Spurs 118, Kings 106

Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs were surprised by the

visiting Sacramento Kings’ pep.

Richard Jefferson ended his recent slump with 23 points,

including a dunk to cap a 14-point Spurs run at the end of the

first half, and San Antonio ended a three-game losing streak with a

118-106 victory over Sacramento.

“A team that has come from New Orleans last night should have

been more tired than us, but they ran more,” said Ginobili, who

had 11 fourth-quarter points in his fifth game back after being

sidelined five games with a strained groin.

Tony Parker had 18 points and 11 assists for the Spurs, who beat

Sacramento for the second time this season and seventh consecutive

overall. Ginobili added 20 points, including five in a key

late-game run.

Reserve forward Omri Casspi scored 20 points to lead the Kings,

who lost their fourth in a row and were playing their second game

in two nights on the road.

“(Big plays) just happened a couple of times late in the

game,” Ginobili said. “It made me feel really good, and it’s

something that’s going to happen more often, hopefully.”

Jefferson, a heralded offseason acquisition in a trade with the

Milwaukee Bucks, came in averaging 12.8 points per game, and just

7.8 in the Spurs’ previous five games. But he set the tone with a

fast-break dunk off an assist from Parker on the Spurs’ first


“We got some buckets in transition and made some plays and for

the most part just did things with confidence,” Jefferson said.

“I’d like to believe that the more I play, the more used to the

offense I’m going to get.”

Sacramento erased an early 10-point second-period deficit and

took its first lead at 44-43 on Spencer Hawes’ three-point play

with 6:37 left in the half. The Kings extended their lead to 54-49

on a fast-break layup by former Spur Beno Udrih before San Antonio

scored the final 14 points of the half.

“(The Spurs are) struggling a little bit, but I believe they’ll

get out it,” said Udrih, who finished with 15 points. “We’ll get

out of it, too. Start getting better at the end of games; in the

fourth quarter, finish the game. Take care of the ball a little

better and be more patient. I think the Spurs are a team that we

can really learn that from.”

Jefferson capped the Spurs’ run and an 18-point first half by

rebounding a blocked shot by Antonio McDyess, driving the length of

the court and firing down a dunk with four seconds left in the

second period.

The Spurs again built double-digit leads early and late in the

third quarter, but could not shake the Kings. Udrih and rookie

Tyreke Evans combined for 20 points in the period to help keep

Sacramento close, and Evans’ driving layup at the buzzer closed the

Kings’ deficit to 89-82 entering the final period.

Jefferson opened the fourth quarter by blocking Casspi’s attempt

at a layup, then nailing a 3-pointer on the other end.

But with Parker and Tim Duncan resting on the Spurs’ bench, the

Kings continued to hang around, narrowing the San Antonio lead to

101-96 on Casspi’s 3-pointer with 6:08 remaining in regulation.

Parker and Duncan came back in, but Duncan’s foul sent Jason

Thompson to the line, and Thompson’s two free throws made it 101-98

to cap a 12-2 Kings run.

That was the last time Sacramento would threaten. Parker scored

baskets on consecutive Spurs possessions to give San Antonio some

breathing room, and Ginobili put it away with back-to-back drives,

including a dunk with 1:57 left that followed a three-point


“We can’t handle the Parker-Duncan pick-and-roll for one thing;

don’t know too many people that can,” Kings coach Paul Westphal

said. “They know when to run; they run it to perfection. Their

shooters – 8 for 9 on 3s? Come on – that’s hard to do that in a gym

by yourself. They were phenomenal tonight.”