Spurs snap 4-game skid, beat short-handed Kings
Tony Parker scored 19 points, Kawhi Leonard had 17 points and seven rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs snapped a four-game losing streak with a 107-96 victory over the short-handed Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
The Spurs avoided their first five-game skid since late in the 2010-11 season with an efficient and aggressive performance. They had just six turnovers and made 29 of 32 free throws, offsetting a night they shot below 40 percent from the floor.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins sat out with a sprained left ankle and bruised left hip, and point guard Darren Collison missed his eighth consecutive game as he prepares to have surgery on a core muscle injury that will sideline him at least another month. Sacramento dropped to 2-11 without Cousins this season.
Ben McLemore scored 21, Ray McCallum had 20 points and Rudy Gay added 16 for the Kings, who were coming off an impressive home win over Memphis on Wednesday night.
Sacramento shot 48 percent but had 17 turnovers. The Kings also finished 1 of 4 from 3-point range, while San Antonio shot 8 for 23 from beyond the arc.
Sacramento started strong and stayed close until the Spurs pulled away behind one, big burst. Parker scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, and Manu Ginobili hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to cap a 16-4 spurt that put the Spurs up 100-88 with 4:06 to play.
New Kings coach George Karl warned his team to treat San Antonio as the defending NBA champions and not a team on a four-game skid in February. Karl even suggested the Spurs were "playing possum," saying San Antonio has gone through regular-season slumps before only to roll through the playoffs.
That was certainly the way things played out.
Sacramento surged ahead 20-10 behind a streaky shooting start. The Spurs struggled to find their stroke, but they never let the Kings stretch their lead.
San Antonio stayed aggressive, consistently getting to the free throw line and getting Carl Landry — who started in Cousins’ place — to pick up his fourth foul late in the second quarter. The Spurs ended the half with a flurry, going ahead 49-46 at the break despite shooting just 34.8 percent.
The teams traded scores most of the third quarter. San Antonio led 80-78 entering the fourth.