SACRAMENTO (AP) — After struggling in the first few weeks of the season to find their patented offensive rhythm, the San Antonio Spurs are once again making it miserable for opposing teams.
Pau Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds to lead a balanced offense for the Spurs in a 110-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points and Kawhi Leonard added 20 for the Spurs, who won their fourth straight and improved to 6-0 on the road this season. Tony Parker had 14 points and seven rebounds.
“We didn’t have that level of awareness and we weren’t moving the ball as much as we should have been early in the season,” Gasol said. “We’re at our best when we’re moving the ball, creating an energy and flow that carries over to the defensive end. That’s been the staple of this team for so long.”
Sharing the basketball and frequently finding the open man for a good look, the Spurs had a season-high 29 assists and shot 49 percent. San Antonio has recorded 20 or more assists during its winning streak.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence the winning streak has taken place after Parker returned from a sore right knee that caused the veteran point guard to miss three straight games. He was directing the offense against the Kings and frequently finding an open teammate.
“The key for us is moving the ball and making sure everyone is involved offensively,” Parker said. “The last four games we’re really been finding our rhythm. We have a lot of weapons.”
An offseason free-agent signing, Gasol is definitely one of those options. The crafty veteran center scored nine points in the opening quarter and had 16 by halftime, helping the Spurs take a 57-46 lead at the break.
“It’s not something I try to do, I just take the shots when they come to me,” said Gasol, who shot 10 for 17. “Teammates found me early tonight and I was able to be effective.”
DeMarcus Cousins had 26 points, 17 rebounds and six assists for the Kings, who dropped their third straight game. Matt Barnes had 15 points and Ben McLemore, Willie Cauley-Stein and Rudy Gay each added 11.
“We’re making it hard on ourselves right now,” Cousins said. “We gotta come out with better energy and a better effort. It’s on us if we want to turn this around. It’s nobody’s fault but ours.”
Guarded much of the game by Leonard, Gay shot just 3 for 11 after entering the game averaging 22.3 points.
The Spurs took the lead for good in the second quarter and led by as many as 18 points before going to the reserves late in the fourth quarter.
The Kings eventually cut the lead to four points on Cousins’ two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining. However, Davis Bertans made a free throw and the Kings missed two shots to end the game.
Spurs: Danny Green was back in the starting lineup despite a groin injury Monday against Miami. He made three 3-pointers and had nine points... Reserve center Dewayne Dedmon sprained his left knee and will also miss Friday’s game.
Kings: Cousins picked up two fouls in the game’s first four minutes. ... Lawson came in shooting 4 for 25 the previous five games. He was 1 for 2 for three points against the Spurs. ... The Kings had 17 turnovers that resulted in 16 Spurs points.
POPOVICH STILL ANGERED BY ELECTION
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been an outspoken critic of President-elect Donald Trump. He has spoken openly about his feelings on the election and held nothing back again in a pregame interview.
“Somebody asked me and I told the truth of what I felt. I still feel the same way,” Popovich said. “It’s still a disorienting situation when you thought you lived in a certain kind of country with certain values and find out those values aren’t important to half the country.
“I thought with all the divisiveness in the election, all the groups that President-elect Trump disparaged the best way to start was not to worry about Obamacare or talk about Wall Street or anything else. But that didn’t happen. That was my hope.”
Spurs: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Kings: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.