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Spurs continue domination over Kings in Sacramento

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- Some will argue the San Antonio Spurs are finely-tuned machine.

The Sacramento Kings likely would be the first to make that point, but pride prohibited them from doing so following San Antonio's 108-102 victory Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 14,950 at Sleep Train Arena.

San Antonio has won 10 straight against the Kings in Sacramento, and overall the Spurs have won 21 of the past 23 games against the Kings.

The Spurs, owners of the NBA's best record at 43-12, held the lead from start to finish and repeatedly held off small charges by the Kings (19-36). San Antonio has won 15 of its past 16 games including seven of its past eight road contests.

The Kings moved to within 103-100 during the game's final minute, but couldn't corral a missed 3-point attempt from the corner by Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs turned the new possession into a driving lay-in by Tony Parker with 19.7 seconds and a 105-100 lead. Kings coach Keith Smart said San Antonio's system simplifies things for the Spurs.

"They have a couple of guys who penetrate," he said. "Usually it's Tony or Manu Ginobili and you have to respect their penetration. As a defense, you'd rather give up a three-pointer than a layup, so that's what you try to stop first."

When a defense attempts to slow the penetration, that's when the Spurs' long-distance shooters come in to play.

Parker used a combination of mid-range jumpers and successful drives to lead all scorers with 30 points and added 11 assists to offset seven turnovers.

Danny Green chipped in with 21 points. Green seemed to always be open and made five of eight three-pointers. Most of them came off passes from Parker.

"That's the way we play," Green said. "We have to spread the floor so that Tony or Manu or eve Timmy can drive. And we have to shoot the ball when we get open shots. That makes the defense respect you -- make or miss. And 'Pop makes sure you take those open shots or else."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lauded Parker's performance for the night and the season.

"He picked up where he left off before the All-Star break," the coach said. "He's having an unbelievable year. He's very committed, very focused. What he did for us (Tuesday night), he's done all year."

All-Star forward Tim Duncan scored just nine points, but had a game-high 14 rebounds.

The Spurs put five players into double figures and exhibited their penchant for having numerous players make just enough plays to leave with a victory. San Antonio, which led 50-41 at halftime, leads the league with 21 road victories.

Six Kings reached double figures led by point guard Isaiah Thomas' 22 points and Tyreke Evans' 20 points.

Marcus Thornton scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help bring the Kings back, but Sacramento couldn't do enough to overcome 29 percent shooting in the first half.

Thomas spoke candidly following the game.

"We just didn't make shots," he said. "The whole first half we shot like 30 percent. That's the biggest thing, when you don't make shots, it makes everything else look bad."

NOTES: This was just the third and last home game in February for the Kings. They begin a five-game, eight-day road trip Friday in Atlanta. ... San Antonio entered this game having won nine straight in Sacramento dating back to Nov. 26, 2007. ... Parker leads the team in scoring (20.8) and assists (7.8). He leads all guards with a 53.6 field-goal shooting percentage. ... After making 8 of 8 free throws Tuesday night, Thomas has made 43 straight free-throw attempts. ... Tim Duncan will turn 37 on Apr. 25 and ranks 13th in rebounding (9.6) and third in blocked shots (2.75) per game. He averages 29.7 minutes. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been impressed by the development of second-year swingman Leonard. "I look at this year as his first season. He didn't have a training camp last year. I think his progress has been phenomenal. He understands what we're doing offensively and defensively and he's one of those guys who is here before practice and after practice."
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