The Spurs used their superior defense to grind out a win against the Golden State Warriors tonight and remained unbeaten at home this year. The preemptive league MVP, Stephen Curry, was neutralized by a smothering blanket of defenders, led by Tony Parker who had perhaps his best defensive effort as a Spur.
summary of all pregame hot takes: spurs are good warriors are good let's go game on idc anymore play ball— The Spurs Zone (@TheSpursZone) March 20, 2016
Both teams started off a little tight, but Boris Diaw, who got the start over Tim Duncan, used his superior bulk and graceful moves in the paint to get shots up against Harrison Barnes and hit his first three shots. The Spurs rushed out to an 8-5 lead, but an ill-advised double team that left Klay Thompson open under the basket for an easy layup led to a timeout by Pop. After the timeout, the Spurs went to LaMarcus Aldridge who had a mismatch inside against Draymond Green and Brandon Rush, who both failed to guard him. Meanwhile, the Warriors managed to get open shots beyond the arc, but started off cold, with only Brandon Rush able to make a three-pointer in the first nine attempts.
The Spurs had a 15-11 lead when Duncan and Ginobili came into the game with 4:22 left and Marreese Speights turned the ball over for the Warriors with an illegal screen, which got Steve Kerr off the bench to argue the call, which earned him a technical foul. Draymond Green got an open look and sank a three point shot, but luckily for the Spurs, Patty Mills got called for a foul under the basket which was ruled to happen before the shot, negating the points. But the Spurs continued their cold shooting and Draymond Green ground out some points under the basket. The Spurs ended the quarter with a turnover by bench player Tim Duncan, which was turned into a basket by Shaun Livingston to give the Warriors an 18-17 lead at the end of the quarter.
Speights scored the first basket of the second quarter to complete a 9-0 run for Golden State. Manu answered with a three point shot to tie the score at 20, but James Michael McAdoo got loose in the paint for a thunderous dunk to put the Warriors ahead. Spurs fans were treated to an incredible display of defense on Steph Curry as he was hounded and double teamed which resulted in a turnover. The Spurs finally opened up a six point lead on a LaMarcus Aldridge jumper with seven minutes left, but turnovers were keeping the Spurs from extending their lead even further. But with 5:13 left, Kawhi Leonard found Aldridge under the basket for a layup, and the Spurs led 33-26. Klay Thompson answered with a difficult layup.
Curry continued to struggle to get out of the smothering blanket of defense of the Spurs defense, but he was able to score points on the move and get assists. Danny Green blocked one of Curry's three point attempts, which was the first time that's happened this year.
Danny Green just became the first person to block a Steph Curry 3 this season.— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) March 20, 2016
The Spurs surged to an 11 point lead with two minutes left behind Manu's three point shot, but a unusual call where Tony pushed Livingston into Curry who was awarded three free throws and a defensive breakdown by the Spurs which led to a dunk from Brandon Rush led to the Warriors scoring the last 5 points of the half, and the Spurs led 43-37 at the half.
It was the lowest scoring half from the Warriors this season, but the Spurs weren't exactly burning up the nets themselves, only shooting 44.7% to Golden State's 37.2%. They also had 11 turnovers in the half, which is amazing, considering the Warriors only had 6, but the Spurs still somehow managed to eke out a lead.
The second half started with a pace a little more to the Warriors' liking, as Green, Barnes and Klay Thompson were able to sink early threes. The Spurs mostly kept pace but Kawhi Leonard had an offensive foul and with 5:23 left, Curry finally hit a three-point shot to tie the score at 55. The Spurs answered with a three from Manu and brought the lead back to 5, but Leandro Barbosa hit a deep three as the shot clock expired and drew a foul on Patty to cut the Spurs lead to just two. Curry hit a pair of free throws after a David West miss, and the score was tied at 65. The Warriors had a chance to take the lead but Draymond Green turned over the ball, for their first turnover of the quarter, which led to the Spurs having 10 seconds to score. Diaw couldn't get a shot off and the quarter expired with the teams tied at 65,
Speights opened the fourth with a basket for the Warriors, but Diaw, in a reprise of the opening of the game, used his size and bulk to overwhelm Harrison Barnes and get an easy basket. Shaun Livingston showed his value with crafty defense and used his length to get open shots. Both teams played the first minutes odf the quarter to a standstill, but the Spurs went on a mini-run starting with a falling-down assist from Tony Parker to an open Aldridge for two and a garbage truck basket from Diaw who missed a layup and then cleaned up the mess with a putback to help the Spurs to a 75-71 lead.
With just six minutes left, the Spurs had just a narrow 4 point lead. Then Harrison Barnes hit a three. Danny Green answered, but Brandon Rush hit another three for the Warriors to cut the lead back to one. But the Spurs defense clamped down at the end, and despite Curry efforts to bring the Warriors back in the game with some long attempts as the clock expired, he remained uncharacteristically cold, and the Spurs did their job on the boards. Boris Diaw hit a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to extend the lead to 87-79, closing out the game for the good guys.
I like big Boris and I cannot lie— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) March 20, 2016
Observations and Random Thoughts:
- I pre-wrote parts of this article based on a certain outcome of the game. The permalink bears evidence of that.
- That Cookie Monster commercial with Siri is pretty damn funny. I try to imagine that's Boris Diaw as Cookie Monster.
- I give Mark Jackson credit for being a Golden State fan, which must be hard for him since he was fired by them. But he could give the Spurs credit for defending well, instead of lamenting what a bad night the Warriors shooters were having.
- Tony Parker is a much improved defender this year. His effort and energy defending Curry was amazing tonight.
- Golden State is a very active team on defense. They really bothered the Spurs for most of the game with active hands which led to turnovers and disrupted the Spurs offense in the fourth quarter.
Music Break (Saturday Night is 80s night):
Tommy Tutone had Jenny's number, and the Spurs have the Warriors number in San Antonio. Golden State hasn't won a regular season game in San Antonio since this song was popular.
Bonus Track--hey, did you know that Patty Smyth is married to John McEnroe?
The Spurs record is now 59-10, and they are 3 games out of first place. There are 13 games left in the regular season, so it's about to get real (slightly edited for profanity). The next game for the Spurs is Monday at 6:00 in Charlotte against the Hornets, who are tied with the Miami Heat for the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and play really well at home. Be sure to watch for Tyler Hansborough's reaction when Boban Marjanovic checks in.