Spurs basketball officially returned to the hardwood on Friday night, and though they locked up their first win in 143 three days, the Silver and Black extended their winning streak to two games. San Antonio traded baskets with the Kings in a back-and-forth affair between two teams battling it out for the final Western Conference playoff spot, and highlight-reel moments were abundant.
The good guys got off to a scorching start, dropping 43 points on 65.2% shooting in the opening frame, and recording their second-highest first-quarter scoring effort of the season. Leads are rarely safe with San Antonio, and while they blew their double-digit first-half cushion, the Spurs fought back to seal a victory in their inaugural seeding matchup behind a dominant display from Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan.
Derrick tied his regular-season career-high of 26 points, and the third-year combo guard did just about everything in his power to ensure the Silver and Black would win the game. White collected a team-high 8 rebounds to go along with 5 assists, a block, a steal and drew 5 charges, the last of which cost him a chipped front tooth.
Derrick White got his crotch kicked and teeth busted to take his 5th charge at a critical moment of a must-win game
How can you not love this kid? pic.twitter.com/tfl6cStb3l
— Tom Petrini (@RealTomPetrini) August 1, 2020
DeRozan dialed down his usual scoring output in the first half, posting only 2 points on as many shots, but that should come as no surprise as coach Popovich asked the four-time All-Star to take a backseat for the sake of young core player development. DeMar picked his spots carefully throughout the contest, and burst onto the scene down the stretch, finishing the night with 27 points, 10 assists, and the game-clinching bucket.
Rudy Gay picked up right where he left off in the final scrimmage before the NBA restart, notching 19 points, a team-high 8 rebounds, and a block on an efficient 8-of-15 from the field. The 14-year vet looked sprier than he did before the break, even putting the ball on the floor for this smooth finger-roll finish at the rim.
Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson combined for 24 points, 9 boards, 6 dimes, and a handful of exciting sequences, including the inbounds play that place the Spurs ahead of Sacramento for good. Keldon continued to knock down his long-distance tries at a high clip, and Lonnie put his smooth shooting stroke, blinding speed, and acrobatic body control on full display.
Although Dejounte Murray got tangled up in early foul trouble, and Jakob Poeltl didn’t deliver his most spectacular stat-line, both were integral in San Antonio’s victory, especially the latter. Poeltl protected the paint, erasing a furious posterization attempt by a red-hot De’Aaron Fox, and Dejounte delivered what was perhaps the assist of the night on a pinpoint pass to a streaking skywalker.
Marco Belinelli got in on the point party too, pouring in 9 points off the bench in 15 minutes before a sprained ankle took him out of the game. The Italian two-guard converted through contact for a crafty and-one in transition and somehow managed to find his way to the charity stripe a whopping seven times in the first quarter alone.