Game #65 saw the Spurs venture their way up to the Bay City to take on the streaking Golden State Warriors. After a brutal 3-8 stretch in their last 11 games, San Antonio found an opportunity to get back on track and get some momentum started against the defending champs while hoping that their franchise player will soon return to the lineup.
Despite a valiant effort by LaMarcus Aldridge and company, the Silver and Black couldn’t corral the victor. As an Aggie, a Spurs fan, and a human being, it pains me to type this; but Kevin Durant might be the best player in the league right now. With Steph Curry nursing an ankle injury, and sitting out the majority of the night, the former Longhorn took over this game down the stretch. You have to give the dude credit.
On a side note: I know things may not be easy in Spursville this season, but it should be pointed out that this team did not flinch Thursday night. The Spurs got hit by Warrior hay-makers left and right, but they popped back up after every one of them. Whether it was breakaway dunks, back breaking threes, or demoralizing blocks, this bruised and battered Spurs team countered every blow. I’m not a moral victory type of guy, but the players, organization, and fans should be proud of this group after Thursday night.
Here are some takeaways from a hard fought night of basketball.
- Kyle Anderson has strangely carved the Warriors up this season. In 3 match ups with the superhuman team from the bay, Anderson has posted an average of 16 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, and 4 steals. The human Swiss army knife has been filling up the stat sheet against the defending champs this season.
Kyle Anderson modeled his game after surprisingly good dad at the Ypic.twitter.com/BDoEzXZl8m— Tom Petrini (@RealTomPetrini) March 9, 2018
His size, savvy passing, and court awareness seem to cause the Dubs fits. If these two franchises manage to meet for a second straight year in the post season, it will be interesting to see what Anderson’s role would be in a series that Kawhi Leonard would hopefully be back on the floor for.
- LaMarcus Aldridge was dominant in the paint against an athletic GSW front court. The 5 time all-star took over in the trenches and had a stretch in the third quarter (a 10 point outburst) where the Warrior faithful gasped every time he touched the ball. He abused the Golden State bigs on the boards and put the Spurs in the driver’s seat of this one for majority of the second half. I would have liked to have seen the team get him the ball in the high post more over the final 5 minutes when Durant made his last run, but it’s pretty hard to be upset when the guy dropped 30 and 17 on the night. What’s crazy is the fact that he only hit two jumpers outside of the paint. After two years of ridicule and being labeled soft, it has to be a great feeling for LA to have a bruising impact in a game of this magnitude.
- Patty Mills managed to connect on some big shots against the Warriors, but was haunted by inconsistency for much of the game. The Australian sharpshooter is a key part of the Spurs nucleus, but it will be interesting what type of leash he will be on in the playoffs if the play of Parker and Murray continues to rise. His shooting beyond the arc fills a huge void in the Spurs offense, but if he continues to struggle from deep, it will hamper his usefulness. This is definitely a dynamic to keep an eye on moving forward.
- This is a matchup that I think Davis Bertans has the ability to thrive in. When the Latvian is playing as confidently as he did Thursday night, his diverse skill set makes him a perfect complementary piece against a Warriors team that thrives on the drive and kick. His size and athleticism makes him a perfect candidate to guard a guy like Draymond Green, and offensively his three point shot stretches the floor. I also thought he did a great job of moving without the basketball and finding some open space on the floor. He definitely rushed a few open looks and found himself on skates a couple of times when defending on the perimeter, but it’s hard to not be pleased with the #42’s contributions on the night.
- Rudy Gay caught fire in the second half and provided the Spurs with a flurry of isolation buckets. The veteran volume scorer caused the Warriors fits late in the third quarter and propelled the Spurs to a 9 point lead heading into the final frame. His ability to go get a bucket as a second or third option when the play breaks down is something the Spurs severely missed while he was getting well.
- It’s no secret Dejounte Murray hasn’t been perfect throughout his sophomore campaign, but the 21 year old phenom has yet to shy away from a challenge during his short tenure in the starting lineup. His athleticism has been well documented, but what has impressed me is his ability to run the show at the point. He has toned down his aggression, gotten the team into its sets, and done a much better job of picking his spots to attack. The protégée point guard is still going to have games that are the cause some pretty high bar tabs for Spurs fans, but the kid appears to be getting better every time he laces up.
- Tony Parker’s movement was outstanding early on. He missed a few floaters that I thought were makeable, but there was noticeable pep in his step. Defensively this is a tough matchup for the Frenchmen, but the energy he brought to the court was unrivaled. It’s not everyday we see an aggressive TP9 take the floor, so you’ve got to appreciate it when he makes an appearance. When the sure-fire hall of famer checks in with that mentality, it brings a whole new dynamic to this team (see last year’s playoffs before the injury) which will make them a scary out for any team they face in the postseason. I know most of us have been in ‘the sky is falling’ mode lately, but this group is still in a position to salvage this season if all of their pieces are able to peak. It will not be easy and is far from a given, but I learned long ago never to doubt the team from the Alamo City.