The Spurs, missing the calming influence of Tim Duncan in the middle, were discombobulated at the start of the game, and were disemboweled by the end of it. The Warriors are known for their offense, which was incredible tonight, but just as impressive was their defense, forcing the tentative Spurs into 25 turnovers, most of which were turned into points from a red hot shooting Warriors team.
This was an highly anticipated matchup between two of the best teams in recent memory, and perhaps ever.
The game, as played, didn't live up to the hype. Not even close. The Spurs got a great contribution from David West early, he was clearly up for this one -- and Jonathon Simmons, Boban Marjanovic and Kyle Anderson played well late -- but the Warriors played much, much better for the entire game. Even their bench outscored the Spurs' bench. A Spurs bench that some say could be a playoff team without the Spurs starters. Shaun Livingston was especially good for the home team early, seemingly scoring for the Warriors at will and using his quick hands to muck up several Spurs possessions.
This was a rout. It's as embarrassing as it gets for the Spurs, which I guess isn't all that embarrassing. It's one game, perhaps one that they can use for fuel moving forward.
We didn't play well. ... At this point, they are better than us.--Manu Ginobili, after the game.
Pop: "I'm just glad my general manager wasn't in the locker room. I might have gotten fired."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 26, 2016
David West won the opening tip, which led to a quick three point attempt by LaMarcus Aldridge, which, like he missed. That was pretty much the last chance the Spurs had to take a lead in the game. Klay Thompson got started early, with a couple of drives to the basket, and despite a basket by Tony Parker and free throws from Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs couldn't keep pace. Stephen Curry went around a screen that his teammate set for him 28 feet away from the basket and swished a shot from 5 feet beyond the three-point line. This was something that was going to happen again and again throughout the game, as the Spurs rotations were a little bit slow, and if Curry wasn't getting open shots, he was feeding it to a wide open cutter underneath the basket.
Kawhi Leonard, like most of the Spurs, started off tentatively, and lost the ball on more than one occasion. David West was the best player for the Spurs in the first quarter, scoring six points and keeping the Spurs in the game. Despite turning the ball over eight times in the first quarter, the Spurs only trailed by six at the break, 29-23, and it seemed like they might get back into it if they just cleaned up their play.
David West continued to play hard into the second quarter, and he seemed determined to keep the Spurs in the game. Unfortunately, LaMarcus Aldridge wasn't able to get on track all game, except for a feed from Manu which wasn't enough to make a difference in the game. The Spurs didn't play badly in the second quarter, but Steph went supernova and the Warriors stretched their lead to 15 at the half, leading 62-47.
The third quarter got off to a promising start for the Spurs, as Lamarcus hit a two and Kawhi sank a deep three, to cut the lead to just 10. But Draymond Green started was able to counter with a score, and Curry demonstrated his quick draw release to get off a series of shots that dropped through the hoop, barely brushing the inside of the net. Brandon Rush, Mareese Speights and Festus Ezeli got into the act, and that was bad news for the Spurs. When you can't stop Curry at all and the bit players are making solid contributions, you are going to have to have an incredible night on offense to keep pace. And the Spurs weren't even mediocre.
The tentativeness from the Silver and Black that we saw in the first half became a black hole of timidity in the third quarter, as the Spurs hesitated, threw the ball away, and just completely inept at every aspect of the game. Only Jonathon Simmons and Manu Ginobili played with any sort of aggression, and although they were able to score some points, it wasn't nearly enough to keep the game from getting wildly out of hand. Honestly, I pretty much stopped taking game notes about this time and just doodled on my pad.
[yes, my handwriting is that bad.]
By the end of the third, the Warriors had jumped out to a 29 point lead, 95-66.
The fourth quarter was extended garbage time, with Curry taking a seat in the third, replaced by Shaun Livingston, who did a fine job in his absence. The Spurs reserves were able to keep pace with the reserves of the Warriors, but it's not the kind of bench domination we have come to expect from the juice unit. They got outjuiced in tonight's game by the hungry and talented Warrior bench. Despite some spirited play from Simmons and Boban Marjanovic, the Warrirors outscored the Spurs by one point in the last frame, winning the game 120-90.
The Spurs of 2014 played a beautiful game, but in 2015, the Warriors began to play their own kind of beautiful game, winning a championship. This year, they've taken it to another level, with even better play from their stars and a better bench, while the Spurs have switched to more of a traditional power based game with their superior big men. Tonight, the Warriors approach was ascendant.
Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.--Final words spoken by Jack Black in King Kong (2005)
- Stephen Curry's celebrations are seemingly over the top, but they fire up the crowd. It's part of their team's culture, and .. I'll just bite my tongue.
- Pop after the game: "It was men vs. boys out there ... they outplayed us in every way." It's hard to argue with that.
- Curry is a great shooter, but he's better on defense that I expected to see. He has very quick hands and can get steals. He also has an incredible handle and he's also a really good passer. He was a great player last year, but he's even better this year. He has no serious competition for MVP this year.
Dedicated to Steph Curry:
This is how Spurs fans are feeling right now.
The Spurs record is now 38-7, three games behind the team that just whooped them. Their next game is on Wednesday, January 27 at 7:00 PM in the friendly confines of the AT&T Center against the Houston Rockets. The big challenge for the Spurs will be to forget what happened tonight and protect their home court winning streak, and not let the Warriors beat them twice. I don't think Coach Popovich will have much problem motivating his players for that game.
It's probably way too easy for us fans to get too wrapped up in individual wins and losses. The Warriors definitely proved that they were the better team tonight, but it's still early in the season, and the Silver and Black still have three more meetings with Golden State this year. It's very likely that Pop might figure something out. Word on the street is that that guy is pretty smart. And Tim Duncan might play too.
On the flip side, more Manu: "It was the 46th game of the season. We didn’t get eliminated today."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 26, 2016