Spurs top Kings to reach 60th victory
Manu Ginobili knows fortunes can change quickly in the NBA.
Last week, the Spurs were in jeopardy of losing the top seed in the Western Conference to the Los Angeles Lakers after dropping six straight games.
Now, San Antonio has home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs after Ginobili scored 25 points in a 124-92 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Spurs improved their NBA-best record to 60-19 and clinched home-court advantage throughout the West playoffs later Wednesday when the Lakers lost at Golden State.
''We knew we weren't going to lose every single game (the rest of the way),'' Ginobili said. ''We had a few good games we just couldn't win. We had a better schedule over the last three games. We won an important game in Atlanta and we got lucky that the Lakers lost to the Jazz.''
George Hill scored 12 of his 19 points during the third quarter, when the Spurs outscored the Kings by 20 in their best offensive quarter of the season.
''(After the first half), I knew we needed some fire coming off the bench,'' Hill said. ''I just tried to be aggressive and give a spark. I think it helped and got other people involved, too.''
Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 16 points and rookie DeMarcus Cousins added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
San Antonio held Sacramento to 36 percent shooting in the third (9 of 25) and 40 percent for the game.
''We didn't make shots and they did and they got a lot of points off the fast break,'' Evans said. ''They're a veteran team and they know how to finish. They make a lot of high percentage shots. They cut hard and swing the ball side to side. They set picks and make the defense move side to side. It's hard.''
The 32-point victory is the largest for the Spurs this season, surpassing the 30-point win over Miami in March.
San Antonio has won three straight after losing six in a row. San Antonio also has a two-game lead over the Chicago Bulls for the NBA's top seed.
The Spurs had their best-shooting quarter of the season in the third to push past the visiting Kings, scoring a season-high 41 points and shooting a season-best 82 percent (14 of 17) to outscore the Kings by 20 and take a 92-70 lead.
San Antonio, which made just one 3-pointer against Atlanta on Tuesday, shot 63 percent (12 of 19), with Ginobili going 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
The Spurs were aggressive, attacking the basket more against the Kings, and used good ball movement to find the open man for high-percentage shots.
''In the first half, everything was working,'' Sacramento center Samuel Dalembert said. ''That's how the game goes. The Spurs weren't missing anything and they pulled away from us.''
Dalembert finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Rookie Gary Neal added 14 points off the bench for the Spurs.
With the Spurs clinging to a two-point lead after Dalembert's jumper early in the third, Ginobili's 3-pointer ignited a 20-6 run that was the turning point in the game.
The Kings held a four-point lead late in the second, but Ginobili scored on consecutive dunks off turnovers by the Kings and fed a wide-open Hill under the basket that helped the Spurs regain a 51-49 lead at halftime and fueled the third quarter surge.
Ginobili said Saturday's game against the Jazz is huge to keep the momentum going and keep the confidence level high in the locker room.
''We know we have a big chance on Saturday against the Jazz,'' he said. ''We were a little worried (during our losing streak). We knew it wasn't the end of the world to finish second, but at the same time after the kind of season we had, we wanted it. We got a great opportunity, it's not over yet, and we definitely want to get the next one.''
Tony Parker scored 15 points and Tim Duncan had 12 points for the Spurs.