SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The Spurs seemed to be a perfect free-agent target as Rudy Gay was looking for a guaranteed playoff spot after only one postseason in 11 previous seasons.
This insurance was eroded by injury season, but Gay made sure that two decades of success in his first year in San Antonio did not come to an end.
Gay scored 18 points, Manu Ginobili 17 and the Spurs rallied late to beat the Sacramento Kings 98-85 on Monday night, clinging to their 21st straight postseason appearance.
"It feels good, it feels really great," said Gay. "That's why the regular season is here to get where we are now, that's a good feeling, something I'm looking forward to something I've been looking forward to for a long time, it's going to be fun."
San Antonio is fifth in the Western Conference, although Kawhi Leonard is only available for nine games this season, leaving the Spurs with little chance of finishing fourth and earning a home advantage in the first round. For now, they are only happy to make the playoffs.
"For moments we felt like the worst team in the NBA," said Ginobili, "but we still managed to play nearly 50 games and payouts in a conference that is hard and talented and young and athletic. That's how we managed to compete.
Sacramento, which was eliminated in the post-season on March 11, led with 14 points, before it was surpassed in the fourth quarter 38-19.
The reserves Gay, Ginobili and Bryn Forbes reached 25 points in the fourth quarter Forbes finished with a total of 11 points
"It's tough when Rudy leaves, everything goes in," said Willie Cauley-Stein, who ended up with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Gay had eight points, five rebounds, a support and block in the fourth quarter.
San Antonio surpassed Sacramento 50-25 after Gay entered the game with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter.
"The way I grew up, you learn, Gay. "
Forbes' quick break from Kyle Anderson gave San Antonio his first advantage at 68-67 with 10: 21 left Sacramento went back seconds later, when Buddy Hield hit a 3-pointer, and so on The lead then changed three times before Ginobili and Gay gave the Spurs the crucial advantage.
Gay and Ginobili had thundering dunks over the past five minutes that helped San Antonio keep small pencils. Gay also had a 3-point move from a runner he threw, tearing the ball off Cauley Stone while blocking the 7-foot shot.
A 3-pointer from Forbes and a lay-up from Ginobili 30 seconds later, the Spurs gave an 82-77 lead with 5:23 remaining.
"He did a great job," Ginobili said of Forbes. "Not only to make shots, it's easy to see the 3 or the 2 big shots, but he played very solid defense, he was a plague that chased them around. We really changed the game when he was on the field There was room. "  LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points and 14 rebounds, but was 6 for 19 from the field.
De'Arton Fox added 21 points, and Hield had 17 for the Kings.
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Kings: Fox's season high for 3-points is six against the Spurs on January 28. … The Kings' last victory over the Spurs was November 15, 2014 in Sacramento, and their last victory in San Antonio was January 20, 2012. … Sacramento was without Iman Shumpert (left knee surgery), Garrett Temple (left ankle sprained), Skal Labissiere (sprained left ankle), Frank Mason (sore left heel) and Harry Giles (knee rehabilitation).
Spurs: San Antonio is a series of playoff appearances is the longest active streak in major American professional sports. The NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins are second with 12, followed by the NFL New England Patriots with nine and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the MLB with five. … Aldridge had his 27th double double of the season, most of what he had in three seasons with the Spurs. The 12-year-old veteran had 26 double doubles in his first season in San Antonio and 18 last season.
The Spurs Must Adapt to a New Reality After a Championship The injury of Leonard, Gay, Anderson, Ginobili, Tony Parker and others nearly cost San Antonio a playoff spot.
"Sometimes you have to adjust your goals relative to your potential, to the way you've played, to the way the season works," Ginobili said. "So we have to be realistic, maybe we are not the favorites this year or maybe it was not a sixties season like the previous ones … After what happened in February and early March, we had it Once we've won, we can think about the standings, but the way the West is this year is crazy, everything is so clogged we're glad we got on this
Kings: Host Houston on Wednesday night.
Spurs: Visit New Orleans on Wednesday night.  Autoplay