The Warriors were without two of their best players, but that didn’t make the win any less sweet as the Spurs, led by LaMarcus Aldridge’s tough and gritty performance beat them in the AT&T Center. They had a great defensive performance, and limited the damage from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson while no one else on the Warriors team except Quinn Cook was able to do much on offense. Rudy Gay looked healthy and provided a scoring punch for the Silver and Black and the team played one of their best games of the year as the Warriors fought their way back into the game late, but the Spurs repelled the surge with shutdown defense in the last two minutes.
The Spurs won the opening tip and fed the ball to Aldridge in the post for an easy post-up and he got the first two points of the game. The Spurs offensive movement seemed a bit improved with Derrick White out of the starting lineup, and Gay got an open shot at the perimeter to put the good guys up 5-0. They continued the free-flowing offense as they built a 10-6 lead early with Dante Cunningham getting into the act with a deep three and a strip of Kevon Looney to force a turnover. Marco Belinelli drew the attention of the referees with a hard foul on Kevin Durant on a drive to the basket, but it was ruled as a common foul, and Durant missed one of his two free throws. The bench unit provide some good energy off the bench, but they couldn’t contain the Warriors, and they tied it up at 21 each on a pair of dunks from Andre Iguodala, Damian Jones, and a jumper from Shaun Livingston. Marco Belinelli scored consecutive leaning triples to give the Spurs a 6 point lead. Rudy Gay fed the offensive explosion with a jumper and a driving dunk to put the Spurs up 31-23. Durant did his best to keep the Warriors relevant, but the first quarter ended up 33-27 with the Silver and Black in the lead.
The start of the second quarter was pretty herky-jerky, as neither team seemed in sync. After a timeout, Bryn Forbes came back with a triple to put the Spurs up 37-29. A nine point run from the Warriors had them regaining the lead with a little over 7 minutes left. Derrick White, off the bench, showed that he could play with a drive to the basket and an assist to a wide-open Aldridge on the elbow as the Spurs regained the lead halfway through the second. The Warriors fought back, but LMA cleaned up the garbage in the paint and put the Spurs back up with just under three minutes left in the half. The Spurs finished on a 10-2 run and led 56-48 at the half.
The Spurs started the second half with defense, blocking a shot from Kevin Durant, which led to a technical called on Durant when he complained on a call against him on the next play. Unfortunately, DeMar DeRozan didn’t cash in, he missed the free throw, but he made up for that on the next play with a drive to the basket to give the Spurs their first double digit lead of the game. After an Aldridge paint jumper, Durant started to get hot, using his length get mid range jumpers, while Aldridge got to the rim to score baskets for the Silver and Black, keeping the margin at around 10. The Spurs turned defense into offense, and a steal from Patty Mills led to an open three from him to extend the lead to 16. Durant was able to hit a triple, but the Warriors offense was reduced to isolation plays for Durant of Thompson as they fell behind by 17. But the Warriors went on a late run scoring nine straight with Quinn Cook doing most of the damage to bring them to 70-78 with 30 seconds left. A free throw from Rudy Gay had the Spurs leading 79-70 with the final quarter still to play.
Quinn Cook, who had been cooking the Spurs, started off the fourth quarter scoring with a free throw. Belinelli hit a layup, then Jakob Poeltl happened, stealing the ball from Kevon Looney and making a layup to put the Spurs up 12. The Warriors, with a spark provided by Cook, brought the lead back down to five with Klay Thompson finally hitting his outside shots. DeRozan answered with a mid-range shot in the lane, but Thompson answered right back. They traded baskets for a while, and the Spurs kept it up to lead 89-82 with 5:24 left. Thompson and Durant got free and they cut the lead to a single point at 91-90. Aldridge wasn’t going to let them take over, and got offensive rebounds and turned the extra possessions into points. They scored six straight to lead 97-90 with just under 2 minutes left. The Spurs defense stiffened, but a foul on Looney got them back to within 5 with a pair of free throws from the Warriors big man. A turnover from Aldridge made Spurs fans a little nervous, but Durant lost the ball and couldn’t take advantage, and a triple from Mills with 38 seconds left put the Spurs up 101-92 with 30 seconds left. Bryn Forbes capped the scoring with a triple as the Spurs won 104-92.
- The Spurs have had 48 days with a losing record since the 1997 season. Tomorrow, that number will be 48 for at least a couple more days.
- Derrick White was moved to the bench tonight, and the offense was more fluid with DeMar DeRozan as the de facto point guard. I think Derrick is a good player, but the Spurs offense is just better when DeMar initiates the offense. I like White playing with the bench unit, and he seemed more comfortable with that role.
- Without Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the Warriors are centered around Kevin Durant. There really isn’t anyone else on the team who can create offense. This team’s offense is centered around Steph, and without him, it’s just Kevin hero ball. Which is pretty good, but is limited since it has a single point of failure. With Steph, every player is involved.
- Poeltl has been really good, getting to loose balls and establishing position in the paint, even playing credible defense when switched onto a guard. He’s starting to get comfortable in his role as a Spur.
- I like aggressive LaMarcus Aldridge a lot more than passive LaMarcus Aldridge. The first guy showed up tonight. I don’t know where that other guy is, he sometimes just disappears. Aggressive LaMarcus gets buckets or draws fouls almost every time he gets the ball in the paint.
- For most of the season, the Spurs fast break has been abysmal. Tonight, it was . . . OK. The outlet passes were crisp and drivers hit their layups.
- Pop has been putting Cunningham on the other team’s best player, and he’s been amazingly good. Nobody can stop Durant, but he did a great job of slowing him down.
- Jonas Jerebko got some easy points by following Durant’s misses. The Spurs bigs weren’t doing a very good job of keeping him off the glass.
- The Spurs outscored the Warriors in each quarter. That’s a stat that has a very high correlation with wins.
I really should save this for tomorrow, because Pelicans are birds, but here it is tonight.
No rest for the wicked, and the Spurs travel to the Crescent City tomorrow night to face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans at 7:00 PM.