Gasol and the Spurs provided the Kings with some coal on Christmas weekend.
Game #33 saw the Spurs take on the struggling Sacramento Kings. Despite being a typically competitive matchup for the good guys, the Spurs quickly took control of the game and put the Kings away, as they secured a 108-99 road victory.
I don’t know what was in the air at the Golden 1 Center, but the Spurs unleashed a barrage of three pointers on the rebuilding Kings, as they delivered the elite offensive performance on the road. Coming off of what was a brutal 6 game stretch (in which they went 3-3), this was an important game for the team to capitalize on. With Kawhi Leonard still adjusting in his return and minutes restri, Coach Gregg Popovich and company will take victories in any shape or form at the moment. Here are some takeaways from the late night victory.
- I haven’t seen LaMarcus Aldridge look this dominant since he was torching my Aggies back in Austin 10 years ago. The 31 year old Dallas native had it all working for him against the Kings. When his defender sagged off of him, he buried jump shots at ease. When they attempted to crowd him and takeaway his air space, he put his head down and went to work on the low block. Whatever Sacramento threw at him was never enough, as he abused the Kings’ front court to a tune of 29 points and 10 boards. If this is the LaMarcus Aldridge who suits up in May and June, the Spurs are going to be a tough out for anybody they cross paths with in the playoffs.
- Tony Parker also delivered a vintage performance, as the veteran point guard picked Sacramento apart on the perimeter. His night won’t jump out to anyone on the stat sheet, but #9 was consistent and did exactly what was asked of him. If this is the Tony Parker we see for the remainder of the season, I’ll be more than happy with his production.
- Dejounte Murray did a really good job of pushing pace in his surprise taste of extended minutes. His potential and slow progression might be my favorite storyline of the 2017-18 season thus far. Seeing #5 play at such a high level is exciting for both the future, as well as the here and now. If the 21-year-old point guard can continue his strong play, it will be interesting to see if he can force his head coach’s hand in implementing more of those two point guard lineups later in the year. Tonight we saw how deadly the second year playmaker can be when he’s consistently hitting the mid-range jumper.
- Pau Gasol looks like he has righted the ship and overcome a few rocky performances in the last 10 games or so. The versatile Spaniard did a great job of playing inside-out against a flat-footed Sacramento front court tonight, as he carved the Kings up. The 6 time all-star posted his 10th career triple-double and embarrassed the pair of Zach Randolph and Willie Cauley-Stein throughout the game.
- When Manu Ginobili is connecting from deep, the Spurs second unit is virtually impossible to stop. The 40-year-old floor general did a great job of capitalizing on his shooting, by blowing past defenders trying to close out on him. This put the Kings defense in skates and let the San Antonio offense pick and choose where they wanted to exploit them.
- Kyle Anderson looks like he’s still shaking off the rust after going down with an MCL sprain two weeks ago. The third year forward has been one of the brightest spots on this team prior to his injury; let’s hope he can regain his form as the new year quickly approaches.
- Rudy Gay had a pretty quiet night against his former employer. His game started to come alive a bit in the fourth quarter, but I was really expecting to see #22 dominate his old team. The good news is that I have yet to see him force the issue offensively, or halt the team’s offense with stretches of ‘hero ball’ that have haunted him earlier in his career.
- You’ve got to love Davis Bertans’ confidence shooting the rock; but man, he’s having a tough time putting the ball in the basket lately. Despite the vast amount of potential the Latvian sharpshooter has shown in his brief tenure with the Spurs, he has also had some games that led to some long nights in the Popovich wine cellar. Even with the roller coaster ride he’s taken us on, I haven’t hit the panic button on Davis just yet. Logic and the law of averages say he’ll bounce back “sooner rather than later.”
- The pair of Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills followed in Ginobili’s footsteps, as the second unit gunners helped spark multiple runs that catapulted the Spurs’ lead to double digits. These guys can just make this team a blast to watch at times. For being the smallest two players on the court, they bring the most energy every time they step out on the floor. Those are championship tendencies and will be incredibly important as this team prepares for the second half of the season.
Source: Pounding The Rock