Sacramento Kings

Stale Kings watch and learn from champs

Spurs guard Tony Parker drives to the basket against the Kings’ Darren Collison in the first half.
Spurs guard Tony Parker drives to the basket against the Kings’ Darren Collison in the first half. The Associated Press

There are times the San Antonio Spurs make running their offense look so easy.

The Kings had a first-hand view of that Friday night.

The Kings did too much watching of made baskets as the Spurs were unfazed most of the night by Sacramento’s attempts to stop them and posted a 112-104 win at AT&T Center.

The Spurs matched the most points the Kings have allowed this season. They shot 51.2 percent, the best by an opponent. They made 12 of their 24 three-pointers, too. Twelve made threes matches the season high for an opponent set by Houston on Wednesday.

The Spurs also had 29 assists, the most by a Kings opponent this season, topping the 26 by Houston on Wednesday.

“They might be one of the toughest defensive matchups in the league for any team,” said Kings forward Rudy Gay. “They move the ball around so well, and they go to their guys and their guys make plays for others. Playing like that, it’s tough to guard.”

It was the second consecutive loss for the Kings, who ended their four-game trip 2-2. The Spurs have won six in a row, their last loss coming in Sacramento two weeks ago.

The Kings played for the first time this season without DeMarcus Cousins (virus). He woke up Friday morning feeling sick.

The Kings did have Darren Collison (left quadriceps contusion/strain) and Gay (left Achilles’ tendinitis) back in the lineup after not having either the last two games.

The Kings were 0-11 without Cousins last season, but Friday’s loss was more about the lack of defense than Cousins.

The Spurs were led by assistant coach Ettore Messina. Coach Gregg Popovich missed his second consecutive game because of a minor medical procedure.

They didn’t look like they lacked direction without their legendary coach.

“Their guards got wherever they wanted, which opened up the three-point shot,” said Kings coach Michael Malone. “They get 12 threes, most of those coming off of dribble penetration because we couldn’t contain their guards. And our pick-and-roll defense was poor (Friday); we did not have very good game plan discipline.”

The main culprit was Tony Parker, who weaved his way through the Kings for 27 points and eight assists.

Parker set up the likes of Kawhi Leonard, who had 19 points, including 4 of 6 three-pointers.

“We weren’t in a position where we needed to be most of the time as far as our rotation,” Collison said. “You can’t do that against a team like the San Antonio Spurs. Last game, we weren’t good against Houston and this game against San Antonio we were worse than we were last game. We just have to get back to who we are and what we do.”

Gay had 23 points, eight rebounds and matched his career high with eight assists. Collison had 15 points.

Ryan Hollins made his first start since the 2011-12 season when he played for Boston and Cleveland.

Hollins had 15 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes, all season highs.

The Kings didn’t have issues scoring. They shot 50.7 percent but gave up 20 points off 15 turnovers.

The Kings, who normally struggle from three-point range, made 6 of 10.

“The offense was fine,” Malone said. “It was the lack of defense, the lack of defensive discipline and our turnovers that really hurt us.”

It also could be said a lack of aggression was an issue.

Far too often the Spurs (11-4) were unaffected on shots. On top of the 36 points on threes, the Spurs scored 52 points in the paint.

“If you don’t get into these guys and have some physicality, they’re going to get wherever they want to go,” Malone said. “They’re too good. They’re the defending champions for a reason.”

And as the Kings witnessed, the Spurs win easy when the opponent doesn’t put up more of a fight.

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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