The Spurs continued their winning ways on Saturday with a huge victory at the home of the league-leading Golden State Warriors. After being hot for two-and-a-half quarters and taking advantage of a rare off night from Steph Curry to build a 22-point lead, the Spurs offense went ice cold in the fourth for only 13 points, just as Curry was starting to get hot. However, the defense clamped down, and a quick 7-0 flurry to end the game got the Spurs the improbable 117-112 victory for their fourth straight win, all against likely playoff-bound teams.
The backcourt duo of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White again had a huge night, combining for 48 points, plus 12 rebounds and 7 assists for Murray. Lonnie Walker also had a big night off the bench with 21 points. For the Warriors, Curry led the way with 27 points, but an inefficient 7-28 shooting, 5-17 from three.
- I never thought I’d say this, but I have a newfound respect for Draymond Green. Back during their championship surge from 2015 through 2019, I hated him for his behavior and shenanigans on the court, culminating in him likely costing his team the 2016 championship. He just wasn’t likeable to me, but that changed over the last summer as I watched him help lead a B-team to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, stand up for and praise Keldon Johnson when others were criticizing his inclusion on the roster, and call out people in the media like Kendrick Perkins, who seemed to be rooting for the US team to lose just so he could criticize Gregg Popovich. Green gained so much respect from me that his quote is now pinned at the top of my Twitter account.
- The Spurs brought their hot shooting with them from Portland, going on a 26-5 run after starting the game down 2-6 and leading by as much as 19 in the first quarter before ending up 36-21. They hit 5-9 threes in the quarter and played good defense on Steph Curry, who shot 0-4 in the first quarter and only had 2 points off of free throws. The Spurs’ defensive approach to this game was clearly to smother Curry and make everyone else beat them.
- Sean Elliott had a good suggestion in the first quarter. Similar to how the “Vinny”, named after Vinny Del Negro, is a reference to a toe-on-the-three-point-line long two, maybe stepping out of bounds in the corner should be called a “Lonnie”, as Walker is good for at least one such turnover every game. In fact, on his first touch the game he was standing out of bounds when he received the ball. But he didn’t let that discourage him, as he finally broke out of his recent “slump” with 12 points in the first quarter, including two threes and a couple of soaring layups in transition, and 18 overall in the half. Especially with Devin Vassell out, this is the version of Walker the Spurs need off the bench.
- At one point early in the second quarter, Gregg Popovich trotted out a micro line-up featuring Johnson at center, along with Walker, White, Tre Jones and Bryn Forbes. They didn’t get as overworked as one would think, but they were still outscored 12-6 for the three-plus minutes they were out there, with the Warriors doing most of their damage in the paint, forcing a Pop timeout. From there the Warriors continued to chip away at what was once a 22-point lead, and despite Curry not hitting hist first field goal until within the final minute of the half, they still whittled the Spurs’ lead all way down to just four before a little spurt got the Spurs up 67-58 at halftime.
- Usually the Spurs are the ones who come out of the locker room slow, and one would think that bit of momentum the Warriors gained before halftime would mean they’d come out hot, but the Spurs opened the half with an 11-2 run while Golden State was completely asleep on defense. It went on that way for a while, with the Spurs getting the lead back up as high as 18 late, but you can never count on Curry staying off for a complete game, and he finally found his grove from beyond the arc, hitting three of them in the final 2:13 of the quarter, including an unguarded one from near midcourt at the buzzer to get the Warriors back within 11, 99-88.
- One of the conundrums with Thaddeus Young is he usually either looks amazing or completely lost, with very little in between. Tonight was one of his bad games, as he recorded just 0 points and 5 rebounds.
- The Spurs needed another halftime at the end the of third to stop the Warriors momentum, as this time they used it to keep cutting away at the Spurs lead with an 8-2 run. Both the threes and layups stopped falling for the Spurs, and the defense was so focused on finding/stopping Curry that the Warriors got two unguarded layups in transition as defenders left the lane wide open, forcing a Pop timeout. The Spurs defense tightened up, and the somehow maintained the lead until a Green three with 2:39 left, even though the Spurs had only scored four points in the entire quarter up to that point.
- But somehow, like how their win over the Celtics went, things improbably turned after all felt lost. After getting down by three, the Spurs went on a 9-1 run to end the game thanks to a four-point possession where White hit a three off a missed free throw by Johnson, plus another White free throw and Murray layup to regain a 110-106 lead with 33.6 second left. White hit the game clinching free throws, and the Spurs were able to celebrate their fourth win in a row for the first time since March of 2019 while ending an opponent’s double-digit home winning streak for the second game in a row.
- It can cannot be denied that this team has heart, guts and a whole new attitude. That is all.
For the Warriors fans’ perspective, visit Golden State of Mind.
The Spurs will end the West Coast swing on Monday at the home of the next best team in the league, the Phoenix Suns. Tip-off will be at 9:00 PM CT on Bally Sports SW.