SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Gregg Popovich could hardly believe Beno Udrih’s name hadn’t come up before the game.
“What, no Beno questions?” the Spurs coach said of his former guard now with Sacramento, then joked, “We’ll talk after he scores 30.”
He almost did.
Udrih scored a career-high 27 points against his former team while holding down Tony Parker on defense, and the Kings snapped San Antonio’s five-game winning streak with a 112-99 victory against the Spurs on Monday night.
Udrih shot 8-for-12 and made all nine of his free throws.
“Before the game, I told Beno he has to let the game come to him. Let the game come to him. It’s not personal,” Kings coach Reggie Theus said. “I would imagine for him, under the circumstances, it’s pretty sweet.”
Ron Artest added 20 points and Brad Miller had 17 points, 10 boards and seven assists. The Kings had an answer each time the defending NBA champions made a late push—namely, Artest’s 15-foot fadeaway jumper as the shot clock expired with 5:12 left after Michael Finley had just hit his third 3-pointer in as many minutes on the other end.
Parker scored 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting but never found a groove and Tim Duncan had 15 points and five rebounds in just the third loss this season for San Antonio, which was trying for a third straight win on the road.
Finley sunk his first 3 with 8:24 to play, then the Spurs pulled within nine at 92-83 after Ime Udoka stole the ball from Kevin Martin and hit Darius Washington for a layin. John Salmons converted a three-point play on the other end moments later.
“That could have been our best 48 minutes of the season so far,” Theus said.
Finley hit another key 3 to make it 95-86 at 6:58. Fabricio Oberto added 13 points for the Spurs, who already beat Sacramento 96-80 on Nov. 2 in San Antonio but didn’t have enough playing on consecutive nights. They won in Seattle on Sunday night.
Mikki Moore’s inside presence and timely offensive punch caused problems for the weary Spurs all night. He scored 17.
“We have had games where we score 128, 115 and 110,” San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili said. “It’s always fun in the game, but that’s not who we are. We’ve really got to find our defense and hold teams under 90 points.”
Duncan and Parker each attempted only seven shots in the opening half. Parker also had seven rebounds and seven assists.
Sacramento thoroughly outplayed the Spurs in the third quarter and led by as many as 18 before San Antonio cut it to 86-73 heading into the final period when Washington swished a 3-pointer from 39 feet out at the buzzer.
“The difference in the game tonight was Beno Udrih,” Popovich said. “Beno was great.”
The Kings signed Udrih, who won two championship rings with the Spurs, after he was waived by Minnesota on Oct. 29. The Timberwolves acquired him in a trade with San Antonio that same day.
“They didn’t have to trade me,” Udrih said. “I could still be sitting on the bench. They helped me. … I didn’t let myself get happy looking across the court. I stayed focused on my game. They’re my team and I was three years with them. It was special, but I can’t take it for myself.”
Parker’s 17-foot jumper with 9:37 left in the third quarter put San Antonio back on top briefly. Then after Bruce Bowen’s 3 at 8:40 made it 56-54, the Kings went on a 15-0 run to build a 69-56 cushion. And, as Popovich put it, his team “ran out of gas.”
Spencer Hawes gave the Kings key minutes off the bench a day after the rookie 7-foot center met with first-year coach Reggie Theus and made it known he wants more playing time.
In the first half, Hawes hit 3-of-4 field goals including a 3, had two rebounds and a blocked shot in 6 minutes.
Robert Horry missed his 15th straight game to start the season for the Spurs after also sitting out the preseason for personal reasons.
Popovich isn’t too worried about Horry being prepared to return.
“I think he deserves to not have me bug him,” Popovich said. “When he’s ready, he’ll tell me.”
San Antonio is 9-3 against the Western Conference. … Hawes, the Kings’ top draft pick selected 10th overall out of Washington, is still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. “I told him I didn’t think he’s 100 percent yet,” Theus said. “He wants to play 30 minutes a game. I want to give him sustained minutes, more minutes.”