The San Antonio Spurs are not going to win 50 games this season http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-russell-bodine-jersey
, nor have they been able to produce the game-to-game dominance in 2017-18 that has been commonplace during a two-decade run of NBA excellence.
But the Spurs still have a chance to make the playoffs for the 21st consecutive year. That goal, no, accomplishment, can be reached with a win in one of their final two games, the first of which is Monday against the Sacramento Kings at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs (46-34) took another step toward the postseason with a 116-105 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday behind 28 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and 17 from ageless (actually, 40-year-old) guard Manu Ginobili.
Ten of Ginobili’s points came in the fourth quarter, including eight straight in a 49-second stretch midway through the quarter that pushed the Spurs’ advantage to 101-89 and allowed San Antonio to cruise down the stretch.
“I was just feeling good,” Ginobili said about the decisive sequence. “A couple of shots went in, and I was feeling that type of rush and that type of excitement. Flow P.J. Hall Color Rush Jersey
, they call it. So I was trying to use it.”
Ginobili hit all seven of his shots in the win, three of which came from behind the 3-point line. He was 4 of 4 from the field and 2 of 2 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter.
“I’m very happy that it happened again today in an important moment,” Ginobili said. “It made me feel good, and it helped the team get a lead and then rest of the guys that were in there the last five minutes were amazing both defensively and offensively, so very solid game.”
Point guard Dejounte Murray added 17 points for San Antonio, Rudy Gay scored 16 and Patty Mills had 13 for the Spurs.
The Spurs remained sixth in the Western Conference standings. If the playoffs started today, San Antonio and Portland would play each other in the first round.
“Our team defense was good, tough cover,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Our big guys were at the rim the way they needed to be. Our smalls chased really well Dallas Goedert Color Rush Jersey
, so I thought our team defense gave us the opportunity to win the basketball game.”
Monday’s game will be the regular-season home finale for the Spurs, who have won 32 of 40 games at AT&T Center this season, the third-best home record in the league.
The Kings have an opportunity to put a monkey wrench into all of the Spurs’ good feelings with an upset. Sacramento can draw on the momentum it built Friday with a 94-93 win at Memphis.
The Kings won when guard Bogdan Bogdanovic knocked down a 16-foot jumper with 1.1 seconds remaining. He then stole the inbounds pass to end the game.
Willie Cauley-Stein led the Kings with 18 points, Buddy Hield finished with 14, and De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson each scored 13. Bogdanovic had just eight points but made the game’s biggest shot.
“He’s struggled shooting the basketball, it didn’t seem like he had a lot of energy,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said about Bogdanovic. “And he’s got the purest heart ever — he’s just exhausted mentally and so he kind of lost focus. We got him some good looks.”
Bogdanovic said the games at this point of the season are a grind on his psyche and don’t give him the same feedback at the end.
“It’s more mental because we’re out of the playoffs,” Bogdanovic said. “But we’re still trying to win and still trying to play the right way. It’s tough, but we’ll figure it out Da'Shawn Hand Color Rush Jersey
, and we want to finish the season strong.”
Kings forward Zach Randolph missed his eighth straight game, the last four for personal reasons. Monday’s game is the road finale this season for Sacramento.
San Antonio has won 13 straight games over Sacramento and has beaten the Kings 10 consecutive times at the AT&T Center.
A Kings win would allow Sacramento to avoid the season series sweep by San Antonio or the fourth consecutive year.
The expansion Golden Knights made an historic run through the regular season.
On to the next step, the playoffs – something entirely different, with Vegas facing a major test in the first round.
Postseason hockey makes its debut on The Strip on Wednesday night with the Knights hosting the Los Angeles Kings, an experienced playoff team that hoisted the Stanley Cup as recently as 2014 and that used to hold exhibition games in Vegas.
The teams split their four regular-season games, each winning once at home and once on the road, even as the Knights were making an unprecedented run through the regular season, which included winning the Pacific Division title. They were the first modern-era expansion team from any of the four major North American professional sports leagues to start from scratch and finish first in its division.
”It’s a new season now and we gotta keep battling and keep playing hard and do what we did all regular season long – win hockey games,” said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant Authentic Justus Annunen Jersey
, a heavy favorite to win the Jack Adams Award that honors the coach of the year. ”We’re playing against a real good LA team that’s had great playoff experience. It’s going to be a battle, but it’s gonna be fun.”
Here are some things to look for as Los Angeles, which won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, looks to end Vegas’ storybook first season.
FLOWER POWER: Veteran netminder Marc-Andre Fleury is back in the playoffs after hoisting the Stanley Cup the past two years with Pittsburgh. Gallant was never named a captain on the Golden Knights but the three-time champion and 14-year veteran – affectionately known as Flower – has been a locker room leader all season. Fleury finished second in the league with a 2.24 goals-against average. He was 1-0-1 with a 2.37 goals-against average and .931 save percentage against the Kings this season.
WILD BILL: William Karlsson finished the season with 43 goals and 35 assists. Last season with Columbus, he scored six goals and had 19 assists. His 37-goal improvement matched the third-largest year-to-year boost in NHL history. With Reilly Smith healthy again, rejoining Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault on the top line, the Golden Knights’ offense will be tough to contain.
KING QUICK: Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick snatched his second career William M. Jennings Trophy, an annual award given to the goalkeeper having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. Quick saw the most action on a Kings team that allowed an NHL-low 203 goals, eight fewer than the President’s Cup Trophy-winning Nashville Predators (211) and 11 less than the Boston Bruins (214). Quick was 1-1-1 with a 3.51 goals-against average and .908 save percentage against Vegas.
DOUGHTY THE DOUBTER: Back in December Tony Conigliaro Boston Red Sox Jersey
, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was quoted as saying ”there’s no way they’re going to be a better team than us by the end of the season,” after the Golden Knights went into Los Angeles and stole a 3-2 victory in overtime.
”They’re a confident group, that’s for sure,” said former King and current Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb. ”I think that’s a little bit of Doughty’s personality. He’s a confident guy, rightfully so, he’s a great player. But we don’t really think much into that. We’re a confident group in here, too.”