Tony Parker and Stephen Curry decided to give it a go despite minor injuries so both teams had all their players available, but that didn't mean both teams were 100%. Both star point guards were clearly hobbled, which meant others had to step up. Fortunately for the Spurs, the other two members of the Big Three seemed up to the challenge early.
Duncan started out aggressively and with the Aussie's collaboration, got Andrew Bogut into foul trouble early on. That meant a lot more Ezeli in the first half than Mark Jackson probably wanted and even led to an Andris Biedrins cameo. By the end of the second, pretty much every Warriors big man was in foul trouble.
Manu started out on fire, hitting his first four three pointers after coming into the game shooting 4-24 from three and was very disruptive on defense while Klay Thompson struggled mightily from the field, finishing the half with four points on seven shots.
With Curry in and out of the game in an attempt to keep him as healthy and fresh as possible and Thompson clearly ineffective, the Warriors went on an eight minute drought and needed to find offense somewhere else. Harrison Barnes did a good job of snapping them out of their funk initially, but he couldn't shoulder the offensive burden, which meant Jarrett Jack had to step up. While Jack's stat line for the half looked good, he dominated the ball way too much and froze out his teammates, but ultimately kept the Warriors in it.
Had the Spurs hit their free throws (11-18 for the half) and taken advantage of their fast break opportunities resulting from steals, the lead would have been bigger. It really seemed like the Spurs missed the chance to get a more comfortable lead and had they pulled away then, the game's result would have likely been different. The score going into the break was surprisingly low, 45-37 Spurs.
In the third quarter, Parker and Curry made their mark. The Spurs would have likely run away with it had they managed to hold off the Warriors for the first few minutes, but Curry made sure that wouldn't happen by going on an 8-0 run of his own and brought the Warriors back in it quickly. Parker responded by scoring seven of his total 17 in the frame, but the rest of the Spurs struggled while Barnes provided the Warriors with enough complementary scoring. Going into the fourth, the Spurs led by 2, 62-60.
In the fourth the Spurs used Splitter on the pick and roll to great success. They got some easy points from the Brazilian and Kawhi Leonard, who cut perfectly when the Warriors rotated. But then Pop sat Splitter and the offense bogged down. Meanwhile, Barnes and Jack kept taking and hitting shots for the Dubs while Curry was merely a spectator. That's not a recipe for success, but the Spurs missed numerous open shots and allowed the Warriors to stay in it once again. After it looked like Tony Parker was going to give the Spurs the win with a jumper, Thompson connected from mid range off the inbound and tied it up at 84. Manu couldn't repeat his heroics from game one and missed an open three and Jarrett Jack couldn't hit a game wining jumper. We were going to OT.
It was hard to see a way for the Spurs to come out on top in overtime. Ginobili was gassed and Parker and Duncan had struggled throughout the game. To make matters worse, Green and Leonard had been AWOL on offense. The Warriors are not only younger but also had a rested Bogut after foul trouble kept him out of most of the first half. Sure enough, the Dubs took it easily, outscoring the Spurs 13-3 with great performances from Barnes and Jack. Nothing was falling for the Spurs, with Kawhi even missing on a put back dunk. Game over. We are coming back to San Antonio for game five with a tied series.
- The Spurs should have been awarded possession with a little over 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter because Bogut was out of bounds when he wrestled the ball away from Danny Green. The refs didn't review it, presumably because there was no call on the floor and Jack called for a timeout when he got it. It sucks when the officials mess up, but the refs didn't cost the Spurs this game.
- Free throws, man. That's what cost the Spurs the win The Spurs went 14-25 from the line after shooting almost 80% from the charity stripe this season. The worst offender was Timmy, who went 5-9, but Green and Ginobili both going 0-2 is also inexcusable.
- Manu was scorching hot to start and finished with 21 points on 5-10 from beyond the arc. He also hustled for boards and got three steals and two blocks. It was a great game from Manu but unfortunately it wasn't enough. It's pretty obvious by now that the Spurs need contributions from more than just a couple of players.
- Since I often rag on him, Neal gets a mention for his hustle today. Even though he made a bad decision by fouling Barnes for an and-1, he boarded well and played solid defense on the much bigger Warriors small forward. Unfortunately, his offense has deserted him.
- Leonard and Green were pretty terrible on offense in this one. It's hard to be mad at either because their defense has been great and before this game they were pulling their weight, but the Spurs would have definitely won this one had one of those guys hit a timely open three. They combined for 2-12 from beyond the arc, with Green scoring both. And one of those came when the Spurs were down nine with under two minutes to go in overtime. That's not good enough.
- Boris Diaw was a disaster offensively as well, passing up open three pointers and missing open mid-range jumpers. Bonner hasn't been good this series but if teams cheat as blatantly on Diaw-as-a-stretch-big as the Warriors did, then Matt should be on the court to try and force the other team to adjust.
- Duncan and Parker didn't score efficiently. It's understandable for the hampered Parker to struggle a bit but Duncan cooled off after a good start and that definitely hurt the Spurs. Bogut is a terrific defender and he made life hell for Tim in the second half. Tim seemed to run out of steam, which is a shame because the Spurs could have used him to foul out Bogut, who was one of the keys for the Warriors surge. I can't get too mad at him because he is Timmy.
- I can't get too mad at Pop either but with the Warriors going big and the Spurs' wings struggling so much, why not go big as well with Splitter or even Blair next to Duncan? Tiago had a great stretch to start the fourth but never re-entered the game again. If Bogut switches to Splitter to limit the risk of fouling out, Tim would have had the shorter Landry on him. And if the Warriors adjust and go small, the Spurs were doing a good job handling that with Neal doing a surprisingly great job on Barnes in the post.
Game five will be played Tuesday in San Antonio. Before panicking, remember the Spurs proved they could win at Oracle and only need to win their two home games to advance. This loss is a gut punch but I'm confident the Spurs will come back from it stronger.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Golden State of Mind