SAN ANTONIO, April 22 (Ticker) --
In their postseason opener, the San
Antonio Spurs looked very familiar. Unfortunately, so did the
Sparked by Tony Parker
, the Spurs began defense of their NBA
title with a resounding 122-88 victory over the Kings in the
opener of their Western Conference first-round series.
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Seeking their fourth title in eight years, the top-seeded Spurs
appeared thoroughly prepared for a run at repeating as
champions. They were unrelenting against the eighth-seeded
Kings, who reverted to their defenseless approach prior to the
arrival of Ron Artest
"I hate losing, so I'm (upset)," said guard Mike Bibby
, one of
Sacramento's few bright spots with 17 points. "I don't know
anyone who likes to lose, but to be embarrassed like that on
national television hurts even more. I know we're better than
how we played tonight."
Parker scored 23 of his 25 points in the first half, when the
Spurs shot a searing 68 percent (26-of-38) from the field and
tallied a season-high 73 points, turning the second half into
"This is the playoffs and everybody is motivated," Parker said.
"In 2004, when we were defending the title, we got experience
from that. I think everybody is ready. We're not going to
shoot like that every night. It's just one of those things."
added 18 points for the Spurs, who had seven
players in double figures, led by as many as 37 points and
finished at 57.5 percent (42-of-73). They already are ahead of
their postseason pace of last year, when they lost Game One at
home to Denver.
"We made shots tonight," Mohammed said. "We didn't expect such
a large margin against them. We need to come ready for the next
game and be ready to grind it out."
Since the acquisition of Artest on Jan. 26, Sacramento had
discovered defense, going 26-14 while allowing just 94.3 points
per game. Artest went so far as to boldly predict that the
Kings would win the championship.
However, that defense disappeared as Parker penetrated at will,
scoring and setting up teammates. He scored 16 points in the
first quarter as San Antonio sped to a 32-24 lead.
"It all starts with defense," said Bibby, who was trying to
defend Parker. "When we play good defensively, we get into a
groove and things start working for us on the offensive end. We
didn't do either one tonight."
"We were fortunate to start the game making a lot of shots,"
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said. "We were able to jump on them.
Obviously that's not going to happen often. We were able to
take advantage tonight and it worked out for us."
The onslaught began in the second quarter, when the Spurs scored
41 points and built the lead to 73-39 at halftime. Robert Horry
scored five points in an 8-0 spurt that opened the period,
Nick Van Exel
had nine in a 14-0 burst midway through and Parker
tallied seven in a 12-4 run that closed the quarter.
"Nick has proven he can hit big shots," Parker said. "He will
hopefully continue to get open and hit threes. Our bench is
great. Robert Horry made big shots as did Brent (Barry
"They proved why they are the NBA champions," Kings coach
said. "In the first quarter, we made a lot of mental
mistakes. In the second quarter, they shot the ball so well and
it just snowballed from there. We got impatient on offense and
that played into their hands. ... In the first half they picked
The Kings got no closer than 24 points in the second half and
suffered the worst playoff loss in team history, eclipsing a
30-point setback to Utah in 1999. They will try again here
"It was tough," Bibby said. "They weren't missing too many
shots tonight. And when they did, they were getting to the
offensive rebounds on those. It's a new game on Tuesday,
though, so all of this is out the door."
"Game Two is going to be different," Parker said. We have to
sustain our defense." Parker said
Van Exel and Tim Duncan
scored 11 points apiece for the Spurs,
who played no one more than 25 minutes. They held a 51-32
advantage in rebounds.
"It started from horn to horn," Duncan said. "We shot the ball
well. We moved the ball well. Our defense was solid."
Artest scored 16 points for the Kings, who shot 39 percent
(33-of-84). He took an elbow to the mouth from Spurs guard
and did not speak to reporters after the game.