If the Sacramento Kings have learned one thing this season, it’s likely this: Life is fickle and mercurial in the NBA.
Twenty-four hours after the largest margin of victory of the season -- a 38-point blowout win in New York, the Kings suffered a 27-point loss in San Antonio, matching their largest margin of defeat this campaign.
“Defensively, they controlled us,” Kings coach George Karl told the media in San Antonio. “We couldn’t get a good shot and we forced too many bad shots.”
The deck was stacked against the Kings due to a funky New York-to-San Antonio back-to-back due to the rescheduled tilt against the Knicks originally set for Jan. 26 but moved to Wednesday due to inclement weather.
Sacramento (21-38) simply couldn’t contend with a well prepared and well rested Spurs (37-23) squad that hadn’t played since Saturday.
“They have a great team,” Ben McLemore told reporters in San Antonio. “The defending champs. They just had more urgency and a lot of energy from the jump. Also, they made a lot of shots. I think we were pretty solid on the defensive end.
“Offense wasn’t there (for us), but at the same time I think our defense kind of helped us tonight. But like I said they made a lot of tough shots and made a lot of shots.”
San Antonio was 10-for-23 from downtown and shot 53 percent on the night en route taking the season series versus the Kings 3-1.
Conversely, Sacramento was 3-for-9 from 3-point range at the AT&T Center and committed 18 turnovers, which the Spurs converted into 24 points.
“It seems like the personality in our losses is when our offense breaks down,” Karl said. “I don’t think we’re trying to be selfish but I think sometimes we take tough shots rather than making the pass.
“In the system it takes time to learn. It takes time to learn the spacing, when to pass and when not to pass, and when to play into the crowd or play away from the crowd.”
In the Kings' sole win over San Antonio this year, Sacramento held Tony Parker to just 11 points. But the French point guard scored 19 on Wednesday night.
Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs with 21.
“He was more aggressive,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “We saw his floater a few times and he shot jumpers. He looked like he was more aggressive. That’s what we have to have from him. Kawhi [Leonard] set the tone for us on both ends of the floor again. He was spectacular.”
The night may have been summed up best by the new Kings coach, who now has a 3-4 record at the helm.
“Tonight, I didn’t get much done,” Karl said.
The Good: The Kings were down 11-2 to start the game yet rallied to lead 27-26 at the end of the first quarter.
Jason Thompson tied Peja Stojakovic for most games played in the Sacramento era at 518.
The Bad: The Kings were clearly in a tough spot due to the back-to-back from New York to San Antonio and just didn’t have enough in the tank to get it done.
The Take: Wednesday featured contrasting situations.
The Kings are at the nascent, early stages of building the foundation while the defending NBA champion Spurs are leveraging their strong foundation and culture trying to, yet again, position themselves for another deep playoff run.
For Sacramento, it’s all about turning the page and getting better. An eight-game road trip gives you no alternative, if you’re serious about building a winner.