Wed, Apr 11, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Gay leads Spurs to NBA playoffs

OFF THE BENCH:Reserves Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili and Bryn Forbes combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Sacramento Kings were blown away


Rudy Gay of the San Antonio Spurs, front left, is fouled by Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings, front right, in their NBA game in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday.

Photo: Soobum Im-USA Today

The Spurs seemed like a perfect free-agent destination as Rudy Gay searched for a guaranteed playoff berth after just one post-season appearance in 11 previous seasons.

That assurance was eroded by injuries this season, but Gay made sure two decades of success did not come to an end in his first year in San Antonio, Texas.

Gay on Monday scored 18 points and Manu Ginobili had 17 as the Spurs rallied late to beat the Sacramento Kings 98-85 to clinch their 21st straight post-season appearance.

“It feels good, it feels great actually,” Gay said. “This is what the regular season is for, to get to where we are now. This is a good feeling, something that I’m anxious for, something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’ll be fun.”

San Antonio are fifth in the Western Conference despite only having star forward Kawhi Leonard available for nine games this season.

The Spurs still have a slim chance of finishing fourth and earning home-court advantage in the first round with one game remaining.

For now, they are just happy to make the playoffs.

“For moments we felt like the worst team in the NBA, but we still managed to go close to 50 games and make it to the payoffs in a conference that is tough... So, we managed to compete,” Ginobili said.

Sacramento, who were eliminated from the post-season on March 11, led by 14 points before being outscored 38-19 in the fourth quarter.

Reserves Gay, Ginobili and Bryn Forbes combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter.

Forbes finished with 11 points.

“It’s tough when Rudy gets going, everything goes in,” said Willie Cauley-Stein, who finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Gay had eight points, five rebounds, an assist and a block in the fourth quarter.

San Antonio outscored Sacramento 50-25 after Gay entered the game with 6 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

“The way I was growing up, you learn you never have anything given to you, so you’ve got to go get it on your own,” Gay said.

Gay and Ginobili had thunderous dunks in the final five minutes that helped San Antonio maintain small leads.

Gay also had a three-point play off a runner he tossed in and he ripped the ball from Cauley-Stein while blocking a shot.

A three-pointer by Forbes and a layup by Ginobili 30 seconds later gave the Spurs an 82-77 lead with 5:23 remaining.

“He did an amazing job,” Ginobili said of Forbes.

“Not only to make shots, it’s easy to see the threes or the two big shots he got, but he played very solid defense, he was a pest chasing them around,” he said. “We really changed the game when he was on the court.”

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