SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—It has been more than nine years since any opponent played such suffocating defense in Sacramento, yet the San Antonio Spurs refused to take a bow.
Tim Duncan and his teammates were content with a beating that should be remembered by the Kings in their rematch Thursday night—and perhaps in the postseason, too.
Duncan had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and San Antonio emphatically snapped the Kings’ six-game winning streak with a 103-73 victory Sunday night.
“It’s still just a regular-season game, but it’s encouraging to do this against a team that scores like Sacramento,” said Duncan, who went 11-for-19. “We just played our game.”
And that game was way too much for the Kings, whose prolific offense was reduced to a disjointed mess. Sacramento finished with season lows in points, 3-pointers and assists in its worst defeat at home since a 40-point loss to Houston on Dec. 12, 1995.
It was Sacramento’s second-worst loss anywhere since coach Rick Adelman took over in 1999. Adelman benched his high-scoring starters in the fourth quarter, and they stewed over their utter ineffectiveness against one of the NBA’s best defensive teams.
“We did nothing. We played like we didn’t trust each other,” Adelman said. “We had eight assists and 17 turnovers. I can’t remember when we’ve done that before.”
Massenburg was outstanding while filling the starting spot of center Rasho Nesterovic, who went on the injured list with a sprained left ankle. The Spurs also played without forward Robert Horry, who delights in burning the Kings— but San Antonio didn’t need him, either.
Massenburg spent last season with the Kings, but angrily left the team before the playoffs when he was left off the postseason roster. He still has hard feelings toward the Kings, and he’s fairly certain he’s in a better position to win a championship now.
“We’re very defensive-oriented, and that was a taboo word around (Sacramento), depending on who was saying it,” said Massenburg, who got booed for what he said was the first time in his 15-year career.
“We concentrate a lot on defense. We work on it. This organization has won championships, so obviously they know what it takes to get it done.”
The Spurs took a 16-point lead in the first quarter and made it 28 in the third, coasting to their fourth straight victory and improving the NBA’s best record to 34-9.
The Kings lead the NBA in assists, but they had just three in the first three quarters, finishing with their lowest total since the franchise moved to Sacramento 20 years ago. Chris Webber played just 13 minutes because of an ankle injury, and Peja Stojakovic was held to eight points.
“We weren’t focused on who was in and who wasn’t in,” Duncan said. “We were focused on jumping on guys, on getting in the passing lanes and touching everything.”
When Sacramento beat the Spurs three weeks ago, Duncan had one of his worst games of the season, scoring just 14 points and rarely looking like himself. The two-time MVP was in vintage form this time, hitting inside shots and perimeter jumpers with equal ease.
San Antonio won in Sacramento for the fourth time in six trips. Arco Arena was half-empty by the final minutes.
Mike Bibby scored 13 points for the Kings, who lost for the first time since acquiring Cuttino Mobley two weeks ago from Orlando. They went 1-for-9 on 3-pointers, and Stojakovic was shut down by Bruce Bowen just two games after his streak of 133 consecutive games scoring in double figures was snapped.
“They know how to take advantage of your weaknesses, especially on defense,” Stojakovic said. “They controlled the game. It was a really bad loss, but the Spurs are a great team.”
Webber missed most of the first quarter with foul trouble, then landed awkwardly on his right ankle while taking a jump shot early in the second. He returned for part of the second quarter, but didn’t come back after halftime, finishing with six points.
The Kings trailed 50-36 at halftime, needing two free throws from Bibby with 4.3 seconds left to avoid their lowest-scoring half of the season.
Sacramento had just three assists at halftime—two by center Greg Ostertag—and none in the third quarter. … With Nesterovic out, the Spurs activated Sean Marks from their injured list for the first time in 1 1/2 seasons. Marks, a New Zealand native who missed the first 42 games of this season with a strained lower back, played the fourth quarter, taking eight shots and finishing with eight points.