clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Spurs run away with road win over Warriors

New, comments

Opening Night was unreal. It was dominant. It was no-doubt. And it was a lot of fun.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Golden State Warriors 129-100 in the season opener.

I'm sure you already knew that, but I just needed to remind myself of what transpired Tuesday night because it is bananas.

My head is still spinning and mostly I'm wondering: what just happened?

Here's the rundown: Golden State entered as 9.5 point favorites; San Antonio was without Danny Green, arguably the team's second or third most important player in this matchup; Golden State has an embarrassing wealth of riches in Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green; San Antonio had Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, 36-year-old Pau Gasol, an over-the-hill Tony Parker, 39-year-old Manu Ginobili and an unproven bench.

This was supposed to be a Warriors win -- probably a blowout -- and a message to the collective basketball world about how dominant the home team would be this year. Indeed, there was a message but it was an unexpected one: Never doubt the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio did San Antonio things, out-executing and outworking the more talented Golden State squad. Kawhi eased himself into the contest, before unleashing the full onslaught of his game on the hapless Warriors defenders.

There was perhaps no better sequence than in the last 75 seconds of the third quarter, when Kawhi replaced Anderson with the Spurs leading by 16.

Curry missed a free throw and Kawhi grabbed the rebound. 15 seconds later, Kawhi yo-yo'd his way into a mid-range jumper over Andre Iguodala. After a Curry make, Kawhi careened into the lane, drew a foul, and made both free throws. Golden State inbounded to Curry, who tried to get past a retreating Kawhi at halfcourt. Leonard freed the ball from Curry's grasp with a perfectly timed swipe, and took it the other way for a one-handed dunk. David West's errant inbound pass resulted in another turnover. 17 seconds later, Kawhi drilled another mid-range jumper. In all, Kawhi scored eight points in 55 seconds. By the end of the third quarter, the Spurs held a 20-point lead.

This is the point when the game started to feel possibly, maybe, a little real. Were the Spurs really going to pull this off? They can't, right? Golden State is just an inevitable Curry blitzkrieg away from getting back in this game. This was fun while it listed.

But San Antonio wasn't messing around. Golden State couldn't make enough shots to climb out of the double-digit deficit hole and the Spurs walked away with a casual butt-kicking against the best team in the league.

Tuesday night's win isn't everything. In fact, it means little in the grand scheme of things. We shouldn't overreact to one individual game, especially early in the season when teams are ironing the kinks out. The Spurs' next meeting against the Warriors is March 11 in San Antonio. Things will be different that time around.

In the meantime, while the league praises the collective gumption of the San Antonio Spurs, let's all just take a moment of silence to remember what on Earth happened on Opening Night. Because it was bananas.

Basketball is back. And so are the Spurs.

Game ball(s)

Kawhi Leonard: 35 points on 10-21 shooting, 15 of 15 free from the free throw line, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists.

Kawhi was on a Ultralight Beam, he was a God dream, he was everything Tuesday night. And he did it the old school way, without making a single 3-pointer. Instead he just crashed into the lane, over and over, and relied on a silky smooth mid-range jumper. Kawhi's career-high 35 points silenced the Oracle Crowd, who were expecting a much different result.

Jonathon Simmons: 20 points on 8-14 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 3 pointers, 1 LeBron-style chase down block, 1 count of murdering JaVale McGee.

Simmons brought the juice -- and then some. If his chasedown block on the two-time MVP wasn't enough -- one of the better defensive plays you'll see all season -- Simmons ended JaVale McGee's basketball life with a dunk that clinched the Spurs' 29-point victory. Have a day, Jonathon Calvin Simmons.

Quote(s) of the night

"I hate Steve Kerr. If he asks me anything I tell him to go urinate in a bucket."

- Gregg Popovich, asked if he gives advice to Kerr (via Anna Killion)

"Tim was a great basketball player, he brought five championships ... and I want to do the same."

- Kawhi Leonard on TNT's postgame interview, discussing Tim Duncan

By the numbers

  • +29: Second-largest victory on opening night in franchise history (via Jordan Howenstine).
  • 53: Combined points for Curry and Durant, who have won the last three Most Valuable Player awards.
  • 55: Combined points for Leonard and Simmons. They made 51 percent of their shots too.
  • 54: Number of points for the Spurs bench, led by Simmons' 20 points. The Warriors bench totaled 16 points.
  • 65th: game without Tim Duncan on the roster since Gregg Popovich took over the head coaching duties. Pop has coached 1,575 regular season games in his career.

#analysis

  • I was dubious that a starting lineup consisting of Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard could hold its own against the Death Star Warrriors, but it was not terrible. Even though watching each individual possession was a nightmare because the Warriors had three or four mismatches to exploit on every possession.
  • A bad matchup translated into a bad performance for Pau Gasol. Sometimes basketball just makes sense. He'll have better matchups and better performances this season, likely starting Thursday against the Kings
  • I'm glad Popovich inserted Dewayne Dedmon early in the game. He's a good fit for a game against the Warriors. His traditional numbers (2 points, 8 rebounds, 25 percent shooting) don't indicate a monster game, but his activity on the boards and offense is a plus. Watch out for Dedmon.
  • Last Leonard note: The officials were calling fouls and he had no trouble getting to the free throw line. It was refreshing to see Leonard enter alpha dog mode and totally thrive against the best team in the league.
  • Jonathon wasn't in play for my first child's name. Until last night.

Twitter highlights


Taco Bell menu item of the game

*Disclaimer: This section is not sponsored by Taco Bell. I'm just a huge fan. It's in my Twitter bio (@quixem), after all. Direct any "Taco Bell is terrible how could you like this toxic sludge" in the comments below. It's cool. I don't mind.

Last night was the crunchwrap supreme. Because it was perfect.

And that's a wrap. Until next time ...