Gasol, Aldridge help Spurs beat Kings to end two-game skid
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By RAUL DOMINGUEZ
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The Spurs were already frustrated by a pair of disappointing performances and that irritation only increased with a slow start against the Sacramento Kings.
Experience has a way of soothing frayed nerves.
"They are professionals," Kings guard Buddy Hield said. "They find a way to grind it out and get the win. It is a culture. We have to learn from this."
Kawhi Leonard had 12 points in 27 minutes, sitting out the fourth quarter after the Spurs led by as many as 28.
San Antonio (53-16) moved within two games of idle Golden State (55-14) for the league's best record.
"We moved the ball well," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought we were really aggressive on both ends of the court. Came back after a couple of losses pretty well."
The Spurs finished with 31 assists on 43 field goals and committed only eight turnovers.
San Antonio was playing its second game in less than 24 hours after falling 104-96 at Memphis on Saturday night and the quick turnaround took an early toll.
The Spurs missed their first eight shots and 12 of 13 in falling behind 14-2 before surging to their 10th straight win over the Kings.
"Sometimes the ball just doesn't go in," Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "I think maybe that's why (Popovich) didn't call timeout. They were getting good looks, the ball just didn't go in. We made a lot of mid-range shots, especially early. I looked down and we had like eight paint points at first. We were making shots from the perimeter. If you're the opposing coach, you kind of go, `Well, let's see if that lasts,' and it didn't."
The Spurs rallied behind their defense, going on a 7-0 run while picking up consecutive steals off the inbounds.
San Antonio would take its first lead at 32-31 on a 17-foot, pull-up jumper by Davis Bertans with 8:42 remaining in the first half.
"I think we played better defense," Leonard said. "We talked a little bit more out there, had more energy. We just stayed within ourselves."
San Antonio shot 67 percent from the field in the second quarter while outscoring Sacramento 37-22 to gain control of the game.
Spurs veteran point guard Tony Parker had 16 points, including 12 in the second quarter.
"He was really aggressive, he was effective," Gasol said. "He made plays for himself, getting to the lane, but he also was able to kick it out and make plays for others and make key passes for our teammates."
Hield had 18 points for Sacramento, matching his high with the Kings since being acquired Feb. 20 in a trade that sent All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans. Willie Cauley-Stein had 18 points and five assists.
Kings: G Arron Afflalo missed his second straight game for personal reasons. ... Sacramento has trailed by 20 points or more in 17 games this season. . The Kings blew a 28-point lead in the first half against San Antonio in their previous meeting, which the Spurs won 104-94. . Sacramento has lost nine straight in San Antonio. The Kings' last win against the Spurs came on Nov. 15, 2014, and their previous victory at the AT&T Center was Jan. 20, 2012.
Spurs: G Manu Ginobili sat the game out for rest. The 39-year-old has missed nine games this season. ... Leonard has scored in double figures in 96 straight games, the third-longest streak in franchise history. George "The Iceman" Gervin has the record with 206 straight games in double figures and David Robinson is second at 157. ... Parker's 12 points in the second quarter were his season high in any period, surpassing his previous high of 11.
Gasol was 2 for 2 on 3-pointers, raising the career highs he has set this season to 39 for 75. His previous career highs of 24 for 69 on 3s came last season with Chicago.
"Just trying to survive in this league that is evolving continuously and more 3s," Gasol said. "I play (center) more, so I get more opportunity to be freed up out there. It's harder for centers to come out and defend that 3-point line. Just trying to benefit from what's out there."
Kings: Host Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Spurs: At Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Updated March 19, 2017