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What we learned from the Spurs’ Game 2 loss to the Warriors

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Spurs show signs of life; falter late against star studded Warriors.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After getting run out of the gym in embarrassing fashion game one, the San Antonio Spurs had a chip on their shoulder. In front of a lively Oakland crowd the Silver and Black strolled into enemy territory and (as Warriors coach Steve Kerr so eloquently put it), punched the defending champs in the mouth.

Behind yet another gutsy performance by LaMarcus Aldridge (34 points and 12 rebounds), San Antonio clawed tooth and nail with the reigning champs, but it was not enough. Despite leading in the third, the Warriors turned it on in the 4th quarter.

The prolific duo of Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant caught fire and eviscerated the Spurs defense out on the perimeter; pouring in a combined 38 points in the second half. Aldridge, Patty Mills, and Rudy Gay all took turns countering the Warrior hay-makers, but cold shooting (the Spurs missed an excruciatingly painful 14 uncontested shot attempts on the night) and the Dubs going an insane 13-19 from the field in the final frame was just too much to overcome.

Regardless of the outcome, this team needs to be commended for their fight and effort on the night. Here are a few takeaways from the valiant effort.

Observations:

  • What else can you say about the performance of LaMarcus Aldridge? Saying that I am proud would be a horrendous understatement. His resiliency, effort, and heart shined through his jersey last night. His tenacity was contagious, and it set the tone for his team from the moment the ball was tipped. Despite the constant double teams, the joke of an officiating crew, and a non existent supporting cast, he persevered. Not only has #12 been an all star, but he’s conducted himself like a champion and embodied what it means to be a Spur.
  • I am typically the last person to ever question the genius of Gregg Popovich (5 championships, and the greatest dynasty in pro sports speak for themselves), but I can’t be the only one wondering about the lineup that started the 4th quarter. After playing Tony Parker just three minutes the entire game, Pop trotted his point guard out on the floor in what might be San Antonio’s only chance to steal a contest in Oakland this series. Alongside the hall of fame Frenchman was Davis Bertans who had sat out the entire 3rd quarter. Inserting these two in the game (particularly Parker who looked like he was playing on one leg) abruptly derailed the offense. It was only a 3.5 minute span, but the Warriors ballooned a 3 point game into a double digit deficit.
  • The Spurs need more out of Danny Green. The veteran 3&D sharpshooter no doubt has his hands full trying to cover on the perimeter, but his lack of aggression killed the team’s momentum. Offensively, I though the former Tarheel was hesitant with his shot and looked like he lost much of the confidence he started the year with.
  • I thought Patty Mills battled hard all night. The Warriors length has caused the Aussie fits for much of this season, but he did a great job of staying aggressive and getting to his spots on the floor. He rushed a few looks in the first half that would have really put the pressure on the Dubs, but overall I thought he did a nice job creating offense and playing with energy.
  • After being inserted into the starting lineup, Rudy Gay was fantastic against the Warriors. The versatile forward was aggressive offensively and managed to take a little bit of the burden off of Aldridge in stretches. Whether or not he can get it going from beyond the arc will be a major factor in whether or not the Warriors bust out their brooms this weekend. Defensively, I was very impressed with what he brought to the table. His length appeared to cause Durant some fits at times and he did a great job competing on that end of the floor.
  • Without a jump shot, it is tough to play Dejounte Murray consistent minutes against this team. The team’s spacing is already pretty dreadful, as the Spurs have had their struggles with the three ball throughout the year, and he is still very raw as a facilitator in the pick and roll. You have to love his energy and athleticism that he brings to the table on a nightly basis, but in this match up, Dejounte is a guy who will probably only be used in short stretches throughout the game.
  • The quartet of Davis Bertans, Tony Parker, Bryn Forbes, and Kyle Anderson has been abysmal in this series. Each one of these guys (save for some positive garbage time minutes by Forbes in game 1) have been shells of themselves this past month. Parker has been outclassed athletically. Bertans, although a decent defender in small ball lineups, hasn’t been able to light it up from deep the way he’d like. And lastly, Kyle Anderson looks like the same guy who walked into the building as a rookie; a slow, timid basketball player without a jump shot. Bottom line, the Spurs have no chance against this Warriors team unless they get some productivity out of a couple of these guys.
  • I really liked what Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili brought to the table in game 2. Besides a couple of boneheaded fouls by Pau (who got into a weird shoving match with David West for much of his time on the floor -- do they have some sort of beef?), the Argentina-Spain axis played with some fire. Ginobili got to the rim and came up with some big plays defensively, while Gasol did a nice job hitting some contested jumpers and creating some offense in the high post. With two days rest before game three back home in San Antonio, it will be interesting to see if Pop gives each of the veterans a bump in minutes as the Spurs look to solve their offensive woes and make this a series.