Another huge recovery for Spurs as they down Kings

SAN ANTONIO (Texas) • The San Antonio Spurs delivered the biggest comeback of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season on Wednesday, when they recorded a 114-104 win over the Sacramento Kings to extend their winning streak to nine games.

Coming back from as many as 28 points, the Spurs improved to 50-13 for the season, giving them their 18th straight 50-win season.

San Antonio have now won 50 or more games every season since 1997-98, except in the strike-shortened 1998-99 campaign, when they went 37-13.

In 28 years, the Spurs have had just one losing season, when they finished 20-62 in 1996-97.

Wednesday's comeback was the largest of coach Gregg Popovich's tenure. Just two days before, the Spurs overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat the Houston Rockets.

Manu Ginobili scored a season-high 19 points and David Lee equalled his season-best scoring output with 18 points, as the short- handed Spurs fought back in front of 18,400 fans at the AT&T Centre.

San Antonio shooting guard Danny Green going up for a shot over Sacramento shooting guard Tyreke Evans and centre Kosta Koufos during the game at AT&T Centre, as Spurs centre Dewayne Dedmon watches. Spurs trailed by as many as 28 points in the second quarter before rallying to win 114-104. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Spurs rested star forwards Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge and trailed by as many as 28 points in the second quarter before their scorers took over.

"It was a really bad start for us, but, once we started getting back on defence and making them score in the half-court, we turned up the pressure a little bit," Lee said. "We are always going to fight as a team. We knew if we got a few stops in a row and every hustle play, we could get to within striking distance.

"Being down 28 seemed like a lot of points, but we were able to chop away and make it work."

San Antonio never led until a Patty Mills three-pointer with 6:26 to play gave them a 95-92 advantage.

Another Mills three-pointer and free throw almost three minutes later gave them a 99-94 lead and the Kings could not stay with them.

Danny Green drained consecutive three-pointers in the final 2:20 to help San Antonio secure the win.

Mills finished with 17 points, while Jonathon Simmons and Green scored 14 points each.

"It was a team effort - we had 33 assists," Popovich said. "Everybody chipped in and did what they had to do by getting up into the Kings after the first quarter."

The Spurs have now placed themselves in a strong position to challenge the slipping Golden State Warriors (52-12) for the No. 1 seed in the West.

Following the Warriors' loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, the Spurs are only 11/2 games behind for the top spot.

They may be able to overtake the Warriors by Sunday morning (Singapore time), when the two teams clash at the AT&T Centre. San Antonio next face Oklahoma City Thunder while the Warriors will first travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Another huge recovery for Spurs as they down Kings'. Print Edition | Subscribe