After manhandling the Golden State Warriors in their regular-season opener, the San Antonio Spurs walked out of Golden 1 Center with a 102-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings, Thursday night, and improved their record to 2-0 on the season.
San Antonio’s stifling, suffocating defense proved to be the difference-maker. Forcing 15 Sacramento turnovers and surrendering just five offensive rebounds to the Kings, the Spurs failed to allow second-chance opportunities and added eight blocks to boot.
Giving up 57 points en route to a four-point deficit at the half, San Antonio took complete control in the that moment on and never looked back. Relinquishing just 14 points to the Kings in the third quarter to their 23, the Spurs stonewalled Sacramento to a total of 37 points in the second half, 20 less than the first.
The Spurs were backstopped once again by emerging superstar Kawhi Leonard.
Recording 30 points and going 7-of-7 from the strike, Leonard has now registered 30 or more points in the Spurs’ first two outings of the season and has yet to miss a free throw attempt (22-of-22). The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year also added five steals, bringing his total to 10 on the season, which leads the league.
Leonard became the first player since 1979 to compile 65 points and 10 steals through the first two contests of the season. His 65 points are also just second to only David Robinson (68 points) in Spurs history for most points through the first two tilts.
San Antonio continues to get major contributions off the bench.
Receiving a whopping 54 points from their non-starters in the game prior, the Spurs managed to follow that performance up with 43 points in Thursday’s matchup, with Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee collecting 12 a piece. Jonathon Simmons garnered just five points in his encore.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 points on the night, which was second behind Leonard, but it was a rather quiet showcasing. Going 5-of-13 from the field and reeling in a lowly five rebounds, Aldridge, despite being stymied, still put worth enough to aid San Antonio’s eventual win.
OTHER NOTES: Pau Gasol scored seven points and Manu Ginobili contributed eight points off the bench. Tony Parker had just four points, however, they were all courtesy of the free throw line.
The Spurs will now head back to San Antonio for their home opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, Saturday. They’ll look to become the league’s first 3-0 squad for the 2016-17 campaign.
Leonard will also look to continue his 30-point streak.