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The Kings trailed the Spurs by one point with 2:02 to go, but outscored San Antonio 7-3 to secure a 94-91 win over the reigning NBA champs at Sleep Train Arena Saturday night.
After going 1-4 on their recent road trip, Sacramento improved to 6-4 on the season, 3-1 at home and ended a three game losing streak.
[RELATED: Instant Replay: Kings hold on to lead, beat Spurs 94-91]
Playing seven playoff participants from last season in the first ten games of this campaign hasn’t been easy, but the Kings have hung tough and if not for the debacles in Dallas and Memphis--squandering 20 plus point leads--Sacramento could be 8-2.
“Faced some adversity once again tonight and (was) just trying to find a way to play through it," said Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. "This team is growing every night and with every game.
“We got back to playing the right type of basketball which is defending first and worrying about scoring later – letting our offense come from our defense. So we got back to playing the right way and pulled out a good win.”
Underscoring Cousins’ point, Sacramento once again demonstrated qualities that will keep the squad in games:
· Defense – held the Spurs to less than 100 points
· Rebounding – plus four rebound margin
· Points in the paint – outscored the Spurs 58-34
· Free throw shooting – 20-for-24 from the charity stripe
It was the defense though, as Cousins alluded to, that permeated the post game victors locker room chatter.
“It feels great anytime that you can beat the defending champions," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "More importantly for me tonight was the defense… the key was that we defended at a high level. We held that team to 91 points and 42% from the field.
“If we defend like that, like we did earlier in the year, then I really feel like we can beat anyone in the NBA. To get back to that defensive identity is huge for us.”
The Kings vexing defense limited Tony Parker to just 11 points in his 35 minutes on the floor.
“It’s like I got the bad end of the stick with all these point guards coming in so early on in the season," said Darren Collison. "These are great point guards that I’m playing against and I have a good team defensive system behind me too as well, so it’s not just on me.
"I think everybody is helping each other out and I’m just taking on the challenge and just doing the best I can.”
“That’s the biggest thing," Cousins echoed. "We have each other’s back and we’re out there communicating, rotating, our defense is on a string. We’ve got a great chance of winning at the end of the night. It’s really about us, it’s never about the other team.”
Speaking of the other team, the Kings defensive effort drew praise from the opposition
“They played a great defensive game, they were physical, and they executed well. They did a good job,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as San Antonio fell to 5-4 on the young season.
The Kings maintained their composure and were able to close the game out, outscoring the Spurs 7-3 to secure the win 94-91 after San Antonio took a one-point lead with 2:02 left in the game.
The Kings were 0-for-12 from 3-point range – the first time in the Sacramento era that the Kings have won a game missing 10 or more 3-point field goal attempts without making a single one.
The Kings displayed the mental toughness to bounce back against the gold standard in the NBA in the Spurs after squandering two road games by failing to maintain 20 plus point leads.
Darren Collison summed it up best, “Typically you have teams kind of feel sorry for themselves . . . but I think this team is mature.
“We can’t think about the past; what happened in the past, yeah we should’ve won the game. But the good thing is that we got back to our defensive principles and we were able to come together and win the game.”