That's what last night was for the Golden State Warriors - a freebie. But they'll take it without complaint.
The San Antonio Spurs let an opportunity at a 3-1 series lead slip right through their fingers last night in the unfriendly confines of the Oracle Arena. Actually, they spiked it into the hardwood floor. Instead of heading home for a possible series-clinching Game Five on Tuesday, the Spurs will now have to fend off a young, gun-slingin' Warriors' team looking to make history. With last night's victory, Golden State finally won more than one game a semi-conference final round for the first time since the 1976-77 season.
With Stephen Curry - Son of Dell Curry, Bay Lord of the Three-Pointer - playing on a sprained left ankle and a surgically repaired right ankle, the Golden State Warriors relegated the hot shooter to a complimentary role for most of the game. Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Jarrett Jack took on the extra burden of point-production and, combined, managed to put up a normal Carmelo Anthony-esque performance (not a good thing). The young trio put in 60 points on 23-for-55 shooting (41.8%), 7 assists, and 7 turnovers. Golden State only managed a meager 37 points on an even 30% shooting in the first half and handed the Spurs 12 points off 11 turnovers while allowing 10 points of 6 offensive boards.
Although the offensive output of Thompson, Barnes, and Jack was lacking, their effort from start to finish was not - 5 steals, 21 rebounds, and 15 trips to the charity stripe (only a single miss). This never-say-die hustle from the trio and the rest of the Golden State squad is essentially what allowed the Warriors to avoid an 0-2 embarrassment on their loud home-floor. Last night's loss wasn't about the Warriors coming back and beating the Spurs though. It was about the Warriors doing just enough to hang around while the Spurs but up historically embarrassing statistics against an atypical defensive performance from Golden State.
In fact, today's shooting performance will go down in the team's history books. The Spurs haven't shot worse than 36 percent from the floor, worse than 26 percent from the 3-point line and 56 percent or less from the free-throw line in a single game since a November tilt against the Seattle Supersonics .... in 1997.
-Matthew Tynan - 48 Minutes of Hell
Tony Parker struggled through the pains of a nasty lower leg contusion suffered in Friday night's game and Manu Ginobili iced over after a blistering start to the game. The Spurs' shooters beat the rims so hard, it sounded like a live performance of Stomp. San Antonio went 2 of 10 from beyond the arc in the second half and continued to force up the metallic sounds with a 1 of 6 performance in overtime. That lone made three-pointer was the only Spurs basket in extra minutes (1-10 FG). San Antonio also tried to force-feed Tim Duncan down in the block in the late stages but the legs on the 37-year old looked lifeless in the closing minutes (1-5 FG in the fourth quarter).
It's a best-of-three series now but the Spurs still hold the advantage of home court despite dropping their second game at home. The Warriors are hurt and inexperienced but they're young, reckless, and believe they can do anything. San Antonio will need get back to executing opponents to death and wring out every point they can manage each trip up the floor. Otherwise, they're going to end up on the wrong side of history - again.
-Hubie Brown attempting to communicate.
The Essential Hash
Free throws. Free. Throws. They're free and they're throws.
The San Antonio Spurs had 25 of the above mentioned free throws but a mind-numbing 11 came bouncing right back off the front of the rim.
San Antonio made 24 of their 28 free trow attempts in Game 1 against Golden State and shot an overall 80.5% from the charity stripe in their previous series against Los Angeles. Since the double-overtime opener in the series, the Spurs performance from the line has rapidly declined - shooting 63.8% (46-72).
It's no secret that the extended minutes and fury of the double-overtime thriller drained some life from the legs of the Spurs players in this series. The majority of the misses from the line in last night's game came in the first half. As the game dragged on, the shot selection from the floor trekked further away from the basket, leading to less chances at the line.
The Spurs had a plethora of opportunities to execute the Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-Finals but the axmen kept swinging with the proficiency of a cross-eyed man with vertigo.
With his left ankle tightly wrapped, Stephen Curry still made big contributions to his team. Curry was a bit more pragmatic with his shots and did not deter from the Coach's plan of making Stephen the second/third option on offense. Stephen also did a much better job in controlling the ball (was averaging 3.4 turnovers per game in the playoffs).
||KAWHI LEONARD/DANNY GREEN|
Leonard and Green share the honors despite both playing a solid game defensively and hustling each minute out on the court. Kawhi and Danny were the primary factors in the Spurs cold shooting stretch, going a collective 33.3% from the floor overall. Maybe it's a confidence issue but I feel that Kawhi could easily be taking many of these mid-range shots closer inside.
By the Numbers
- 47.4% - Spurs shooting percentage in the first quarter.
- 32.4% - Spurs shooting percentage throughout the last three quarters.
- 1 - Total number of Golden State blocks. Bogut blocked a late game shot from a tired Tim Duncan.
- 14 - Advantage in rebounds for the Warriors.
- 16 - Second-chance points for Golden State of 19 offensive rebounds.
- 4 - Fast break points for the San Antonio Spurs through 53 minutes of play.
- 7 - Rebounds for Danny Green, a career playoff high.
- 27 - Attempts from deep for San Antonio (only 7 makes).
- 36 - Total assists for game with an overtime period, showing how poor the scoring was in last night's game.
Bird is the Word
Kawhi Leonard can catch anything with those big 'ol bear paws. Salmon. Eagles. Honey. Basketballs.— D.J. Foster (@fosterdj) May 12, 2013
Super effort and intensity from Gary Neal today. Contributions that won't show up in the stat sheet.— Bart Herridge (@BartTBF) May 12, 2013
Can we get less of Mark Jackson's fortune cookie speeches?— Fred (@DartFred) May 12, 2013
The Spurs could REALLY wind up regretting losing this one. Had control and in a rare instance, didn't execute.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 12, 2013
- Many Golden State fans are upset at the number of offensive fouls called on the Warriors' big men. In truth, they're lucky more haven't been called on their team -especially Bogut- throughout the series.
- That said, Parker has been getting the benefit of the doubt with quite a few fouls as well. Except against Jarrett Jack... the bear hugs and headlocks are actually fouls, believe it or not.
- Is there any national/local broadcast team worth listening to anymore? There needs to be an arena audio only feed for people like me.
- During the halftime show, Bill Simmons said Paul George should change his number to 13. That way, people could then call him "PG-13." The comment made my head hurt, forcing me to lay down on the couch for a minute.
- It was obvious that the Spurs could get to the rim whenever they wanted but they kept settling for the mid and long range looks. They were wide open looks but they just couldn't connect.
- There was a missed call at the end of the game that should have been reviewed. The ball bounced off Bogut while the Warriors' center was out of bounds. The officials just gave possession to Golden State and denied Popovich's arguments for a review.
- Manu got off to a great start, going 4 of 5 for 11 points in the first quarter. Ginobili cooled down and finished 8 of 18 but he hustled on loose balls, rebounds, and on defense from start to finish.
Going into Game Five, the Spurs Need to...
...re-discover their aggression and find a way to work fresher legs into the rotation (here come the T-Mac comments). It's great that the Spurs are finding easy looks at the basket, and Game Four didn't have a shortage of them, but the shots are not falling. Spurs discombobulate the hyperactive Golden State defense even more when they attack the paint. Of course, the easy looks will be there due to the collapsed defense but the Spurs need to force the action at the rim. Scoring inside may develop some confidence and rhythm on the outside. Despite the eight day lay-off, the Spurs are struggling with preserving energy for the finish and they're aren't getting any help from the NBA schedule makers. Unlike the rest of the playoffs, there are no two-day breaks in this series until a possible game 7.
The Spurs play again on Tuesday and they'll need to find a way to preserve their key players for winning time.