For a team that’s dedicated this season to development and learning, this was the best way to summarize what happened to the Kings against the San Antonio Spurs.
“They just took us to school,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger.
There aren’t many better teachers than the Spurs, who educated the Kings on the fundamentals of team basketball in a 108-99 victory Saturday night at Golden 1 Center.
Joerger still likes how far the Kings (11-21) have come.
The belief is still that what happens this season will pay dividends in the future.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Joerger said. “I just told them how much they’ve all improved in the last four weeks through the video, through the work we’re doing on the court. We’re miles and miles ahead of where we were four weeks ago and that’s the most important thing.”
If the Kings are to focus on the big picture, Saturday’s loss is another lesson in how they hope to be in the future.
The Spurs have been winning consistently for nearly 20 years and the Kings haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007.
Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein said there’s a lot to be learned from the Spurs.
“The way they move the ball and play for each other,” Cauley-Stein. “That gets you extra work playing for each other. Every now and then a couple of guys go off and pick up a win like that. But the majority of time if you play for each other, you’re setting yourself up for a good chance to win the game.”
The Spurs showed the Kings you don’t have to be young and spry to put on a good performance.
Pau Gasol became the oldest player to record a triple-double at 37 years, 171 days since Tim Duncan (38 years, 224 days) on Dec. 5, 2014.
Gasol had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
The oldest player with a triple-double is Karl Malone (40 years, 127 days), who accomplished the feat Nov. 28, 2003 for the Lakers against the Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a game-high 29 points.
The Spurs (23-11) excel at not wasting opportunities.
“We were kind of chasing our tail against a team that’s been doing it together for a long, long time and I told our guys we will get there,” Joerger said. “We had cutters open, we had, ‘Oh I should’ve shot that one. Oh, I needed to help you there.’ Those kinds of things against a really high level team.”
With 10 players with three years or less of experience, the Kings have no choice but to allow the young players to learn on the job.
“I take my cap off to them, letting us battle through mistakes,” Cauley-Stein said of the coaching staff. “... Live action, you can, work out how many hours in the gym, but nothing’s the same as going against another player of your stature. The only way you get that type of action is in a game and a little bit in practice but more and more in the game because it matters more.”
Buddy Hield led the Kings with 24 points in his first start since Oct. 31. Cauley-Stein had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 15 points off the bench.