San Antonio is hardly known for its offense -- that's why management paid a premium for a new starting small forward, one Richard Jefferson. The former Net and Buck has always been a frequent scorer, and that's what the Spurs decided (correctly) they needed. And it paid off Wednesday night, with Jefferson torching the Kings defense to buoy a Spurs offense that ended up performing very well despite middling production from its big men.
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili helped a ton, and the Spurs shot 8-9 on threes despite fairly decent perimeter defense. The issues with the Kings defense weren't gaping -- they had trouble stopping Parker's penetration (unsurprising, as few stop Parker) and didn't get back in transition in the first half. Basically, this was a phenomenal performance for the Spurs. That the Kings constantly put pressure on the home team in the second half, with run after run after "you know I'm not dead" run is a minor coup.
Jason Jones of The Bee notes just how young Paul Westphal went: the only King with at least three years of NBA experience to play more than 20 minutes was Beno Udrih. This was basically a bunch of college-age players against a team whose core has won three championships this decade, and whose star has four and happens to be the best power forward of all-time.
And the Kings fought. The 14-0 Spurs run in the second quarter should have killed them ... but the Kings stormed back. And so it happened three more times in the second half: the Spurs opened up the lead to 10+ ... and the Kings brought it back within three or four, even taking a brief 1-point lead at one point.
Omri Casspi was a beast with 20 points on 14 FGAs, with seven rebounds. Tyreke Evans wasn't terribly inefficient, his worst game of the four-game stretch. But he still 20/4/5 and four steals. So, you know, not bad, rook. Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes combined to play Tim Duncan as well as you can ever expect, with Thompson showing good offensive touch in the second half after Hawes had opened up the game looking sharp. Donte Greene made some late-game miscues on offense, but brought every bit the energy the situation called for, ripping a rebound out of Matt Bonner's hands for a putback, and not taking no lip when the Red Rocket later attempted to return the favor.
I'll take "Encouraging Losses" for $500, Alex.