Spurs, Kings enter matchup desperate for win

The San Antonio Spurs hope a return home after a lengthy road trip and an easier schedule combine to offer them the edge they need to make a run at a spot in the postseason.

San Antonio squares off Thursday against the visiting Sacramento Kings, another team that’s desperate for wins and momentum.

The Spurs haven’t played a home game since Feb. 4. They embarked on their annual rodeo-related road trip — this season split by the All-Star break — and went 4-4. Their latest game was a 118-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, San Antonio’s second defeat in a row.

Lonnie Walker IV led the Spurs with 22 points. Dejounte Murray scored 21 points before he was ejected with 2:24 left in the game for tossing the ball at a referee.

Jakob Poeltl added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Doug McDermott had 14 points.

On Wednesday, the NBA fined Murray $20,000 for his Monday transgression, which resulted in the first ejection of his five-year career.

“You can’t really talk about refs or anything without getting fined, so I have no interest in talking about that,” Murray said after the Spurs’ practice Wednesday.

Twelve of San Antonio’s final 20 games are at home, where the Spurs are 11-18 this season. Seven of those games are against teams with sub-.500 records; San Antonio is 15-11 against such opponents.

“It’s huge. We’re ready to get home — we’re so ready to get home,” McDermott said. “We’ve got some games we can win, and we’ve got to get some wins.”

The loss in Memphis left coach Gregg Popovich with 1,334 wins, one victory shy of matching Don Nelson’s NBA-record total.

“Pop don’t like praise,” Murray said. “He doesn’t like none of that. It’s kind of a good thing, but you also want to remind him of his success.”

The Kings head to San Antonio for the second game of a road back-to-back set after a 125-95 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. Sacramento has dropped five of its past six games.

De’Aaron Fox led the Kings with 25 points (17 in the first half). Harrison Barnes added 19, Domantas Sabonis amassed 15 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, and Jeremy Lamb contributed 12 points.

Sacramento led by two after one period and was down by just four at the break but managed only 34 points in the second half.

The 13th-place Kings fell four games out of 10th place in the Western Conference, the last spot in the play-in tournament. San Antonio is two games ahead of Sacramento in 12th place.

“We control our future, and we’ve got to win as many games as we can these last 18,” Sabonis said after the Wednesday loss. “Today was an important one. We’re going to see New Orleans again in a week, and (Thursday vs. the Spurs) is a must-win. These are the teams we’re fighting to get into that play-in spot.”

The teams have split their two meeting this season, with each winning on its home floor.

–Field Level Media