At one point Wednesday night, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, 21, turned to San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan, 35, and complimented him as only Cousins could.
"(Expletive) you're good," Cousins recalled saying.
That could go for Duncan's teammates, too, as they didn't look like a veteran team playing its fifth game in six nights in beating the Kings 117-112 at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Kings have lost four games in a row. The Spurs have won six in a row.
There was a lot of talk about the Kings, who have the second-worst record in the Western Conference, learning from the Spurs, who have the second-best record in the West.
What the Kings might have learned was not to waste opportunities, and that turnovers against good teams are hard to overcome.
The Kings finished with 16 turnovers, but 12 of them came in the first half, leading to 14 points to allow the Spurs to overcome shooting 43.1 percent and lead 53-49.
The turnovers negated the Kings shooting 52.4 percent in the half.
"Sometimes games start out sloppy like that," Cousins said. "In our case, we can't start out sloppy like that, especially against a team like the Spurs. What we wanted to do was come out and jump on them early that wasn't the case tonight, and that resulted in a tougher game later on."
The Kings didn't lead Wednesday but were down just 81-78 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Spurs made 14 of 20 shots (70 percent) in the final quarter.
"The mistakes that you make defensively, (the Spurs) are going to find the open guy," said Kings coach Keith Smart. "They're going to move the basketball to the open person. Any mistake, any lag time where you don't make a decision to get back to a primary guy defensively, they're going to find that guy."
The Kings shot a season-high 54.7 percent for the game but couldn't overcome allowing 20 points off turnovers or allowing the Spurs to shoot 53.8 percent.
"Every little mistake, they capitalized on it," said Kings guard Isaiah Thomas. "We played good D for about 19, 20 seconds and then that little mistake we had, whatever it might have been, they just do what championship teams do they found a little hole and they went through it."
Thomas led the Kings (17-33) with a season-high 28 points. Cousins had his fifth straight double double with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Marcus Thornton had 18 points, but Tyreke Evans, the Kings' second-leading scorer this season, had just six points and took only five shots.
The Spurs were playing their fifth game in six nights. After playing three games in three nights over the weekend, the Spurs played Tuesday night at Phoenix.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich usually gives at least one of his veterans the night off in that situation, but that wasn't the case against the Kings.
The Spurs (35-14) had their entire roster available, including Duncan and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the three Spurs with All-Star appearances in their careers.
"With this tough schedule, we have to rest guys a little bit," Popovich said. "And that has allowed us to not have to play Tony, Tim and Manu as much as we have in the past."
Ginobili led the Spurs with 20 points off the bench. Duncan had 18 points and eight rebounds. Parker had 10 assists to go with 10 points and seven rebounds.