Kings beat Spurs, 115-112, keep Popovich shy of NBA mark
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Harrison Barnes had 27 points and the Sacramento Kings held off San Antonio 115-112 on Thursday night, keeping Spurs coach Gregg Popovich a victory shy of tying Don Nelson’s NBA record.
“We talked about resiliency,” Sacramento coach Alvin Gentry said. “You’ve just got to keep your focus and you’ve got to figure out how you can make plays that are going to help you in those last two minutes of the game to get over the hump.”
The Kings kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Spurs, who entered two games ahead of Sacramento for 12th in the Western Conference.
The Spurs have lost three straight since Popovich reached 1,334 career regular-season victories.
De’Aaron Fox added 26 points for Sacramento. Domantas Sabonis had 12 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with a minute remaining.
Lonnie Walker IV had 30 points for San Antonio, and Dejounte Murray added 29 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
San Antonio played at home for the first time since Feb. 4 after going 4-4 on their annual extended road trip necessitated by the San Antonio rodeo.
The Kings had lost five of six entering the contest and were in danger of dropping their second straight after a sluggish second half.
Sacramento was 7 for 9 on free throws in a 11-1 run that gave the Kings a 110-104 lead minutes after the Spurs captured their first lead.
“For us to come out we got three or four straight stops in a row,” Barnes said. “That’s something that we haven’t usually done, especially down the stretch. I thought that was a step for us tonight.”
After trailing by 19 points, San Antonio closed the third quarter on a 22-3 run to enter the fourth trailing 88-82. Walker had seven points in the run and Murray four.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Gentry said. “If you look at what Lonnie Walker did, I thought he single-handedly kind of got them back in the game. And Dejounte, he’s a really, really good young player. Both of those guys played really well, but I thought we did a good job of staying focused and finding enough plays that could get us over the hump.”
The run continued in the fourth quarter behind some aggressive defense. After nearly forcing a turnover by Sabonis and a missed 3-pointer by Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Primo threw down a two-handed dunk ahead of Sabonis to tie it at 91 with 7:45 remaining.
Murray’s layup with 5:10 remaining gave the Spurs their first lead at 99-97.
“The best thing about this team is they don’t give in,” Popovich said. “The bad side is you can’t play an NBA game for 22 minutes. We played about a quarter and a half tonight, and that’s disappointing. We have to take responsibility for that and be more mentally ready to go.”
The Kings arrived in San Antonio a day later than expected after being stuck in New Orleans on Wednesday night due to mechanical problems with their plane. Sacramento planned to depart the Crescent City following its 125-95 loss to the Pelicans but instead were forced to stay overnight.
Kings: Sacramento last won in San Antonio on March 29, 2021. The Kings are 23-71 on the road against the Spurs and 62-125 overall. … Richaun Holmes did not play after testing his sore back in pre-game workouts. … F Trey Lyles, who spent the two previous seasons with the Spurs, had nine points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. Lyles dunk in the first quarter was overturned after a video review determined he did not release the ball prior to the shot clock expiring.
Spurs: San Antonio proclaimed its support for Ukraine prior to tipoff and held a moment of silence for those injured or killed during Russia’s invasion. Fans erupted in cheers when Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag was initially displayed on the video screens at the AT&T Center. Kings C Alex Len is from Ukraine. … G Tomas Satoransky signed with Washington on Monday after being waived Saturday by the Spurs following a buy-out agreement. … Primo had six points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Kings: At Dallas on Saturday.
Spurs: At Charlotte on Saturday.