Prior to tip-off, Kings coach Dave Joerger said having to shuffle lineups with several players ruled out wasn’t that big of a deal because he’s had to adjust lineups all season.
He didn’t expect one of those adjustments to be leaving the game himself.
Joerger left the bench early in the first quarter of the Kings’ 113-98 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at AT&T Center.
He was walking along the sideline, yelling and clapping when he went down to a knee after feeling lightheaded in front of assistant coach Elston Turner and trainer Pete Youngman.
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Joerger was held out the rest of the game as a precaution. There has been no announcement on whether Joerger will travel with the Kings to New Orleans for their game Tuesday against the Pelicans.
Turner, Joerger’s lead assistant, coached the rest of the game and said Joerger was “OK.”
“Sometimes when you stand up real fast from a sitting position, you get a little bit lightheaded, and that’s what happened,” Turner said. “We took precautionary measures. He came back, saw the doctor and our trainers and took the rest of the night off.”
As Joerger was being taken to the locker room, players on the court did not realize he was gone.
“We were on offense and I looked and I saw E.T. standing up, I saw Coach (Joerger) walking to the back and after that I’m like I’m still focused on the game,” said guard De’Aaron Fox. “And he let us know what happened. We got back at halftime and we went out there and just kept playing.”
Aside from Turner, there was a belief among the players that Joerger would be OK. It also helped that Joerger spoke to the team at halftime.
“You never like see anybody hurt or not feeling good,” guard George Hill said. “We just wanted to know that he was fine. We came back here and he addressed us at halftime and was calm and said he’s going to get healthy and get back with us.”
Vince Carter said the sight of Joerger leaving the court in that manner was not easy. The veteran forward said the Kings wanted to continue to play in the manner Joerger stressed recently coming off two consecutive road wins.
“We all just wanted to come out and play hard in his absence,” Carter said. “That’s something he’s been preaching the last two days.”
The Kings shook off an uneasy start to the game and led 50-49 at halftime. Fox said nothing changed with Turner coaching.
Fox scored a career-high 26 points, including making all six of his 3-pointers.
“E.T. stepped up,” Fox said. “He did what he was supposed to do. ... We just came out kind of lackluster in that fourth quarter.”
The Kings’ downfall began in the third quarter, when they were outscored 30-19 and then could not put together enough defensive stops to get back into the game.
The Kings (15-34) made a season-high 18 3-pointers, but couldn’t stop the Spurs from getting good looks, which has been a problem all season.
The Spurs (33-19) outscored the Kings 50-20 in the paint and shot 50 percent for the game.
“We could stand to have a little rim protection once they got by our first line of defense,” Turner said. “There wasn’t a lot at the rim so a lot of uncontested layups, and they’ve been in a system for a long time.”
The Kings’ knack for giving up big games to the unsung opponent popped up again, as reserve Bryn Forbes led San Antonio with a season-high 23 points. Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 15 points.
Carter finished with 21 points and Hill scored 19 for the Kings.