San Antonio (34-47), missing arguably five of its top six rotation pieces was able to hang with Golden State for a massive portion of the opening and closing periods before succumbing to the more veteran squad and two-way masterclass in sublime brilliance taught by Draymond Green throughout the middle periods. The Spurs appeared to be done in by poor outside shooting and lack of familiarity with each other until, beginning with the end of the third and for much of the final quarter, the remnant Spurs made several runs at the more experienced Warriors - rousing the AT&T Center faithful to a frenzied crescendo in the process. However, Jordan Poole squashed San Antonio’s comeback hopes with several free throws in the closing minutes.
The Spurs’ loss cemented their 10th place conference finish heading into Wednesday’s play-in game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Lonnie Walker IV, with a rare opportunity as the featured option for San Antonio, more than held his own with 24 points and 5 rebounds. Other notable Spurs’ contributions came from Tre Jones (15 points and 7 assists), Joshua Primo (14 points and 3 assists), Zach Collins (7 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks), and Jock Landale (6 points and 11 rebounds).
Golden State, absent its all-time backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, received ample contributions from Poole (18 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds), impressive rookie Jonathan Kuminga (18 points and 4 rebounds), and Green (12 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists).
Despite the setback, the Spurs accomplished Pop’s goals to “stay in rhythm and avoid injuries” heading into the season finale tomorrow.
- Red McCombs and Angelo Drossos really did see this Spurs franchise through some brutal times during the 80s.
- Memphis put up 55 points on the Pelicans in the third quarter tonight.
- Lukewarm Take: Jordan Poole looks like he made the early career leap that many Spurs fans had hoped Walker IV would have made by now.
- The potential Warriors / Nuggets first-round series looks like prime viewing opportunities for NBA fans.
- My “Complains Too Much” All-NBA 1st team this season: F Golden State’s Green, G Luka Doncic, F Lebron James, G Chris Paul (lifetime achievement award), G James Harden. Injured Reserve - F Ben Simmons.
- The Andrew Wiggins experience for nearly everyone that has watched him this season.
- Sequence of the Game: Tre Jones, with the Warriors defense collapsed on him late in the shotclock, willed home an acrobatic lay-up early in the third period.
- Devontae Cacok needs to be a backup on the San Antonio bench ALL of next season.
- I’m not certain that Joe Wieskamp should be on a Spurs bench, though.
- Walker IV’s Fiesta and shoe game = FIERCE.
- The teams’ intensity seemed more appropriate for a playoff game than the 81st game of the season as they traded the lead for much of the stanza. Richardson impressed on a stepback three in the opening moments. A pair of buckets by Nemanja Bjelica helped the Warriors nudge ahead, while Cacok paired a lay-up and tip-in to keep San Antonio within two exiting the quarter.
- An impressive drive and layup by Walker IV started the scoring in the second period. 37-year old Andre Iguodala went coast-to-coast for a gliding layup that would have made 40-year old Manu Ginobili proud. With Golden State looking to pull away, a three by Jock Landale kept it a one-possession game. Kuminga’s third straight make extended the Warriors’ lead to double-digits. The Warriors peppered the Spurs defense with numerous drives and dump-offs to the dunker spot for scores. San Antonio was fortunate to be down only ten at the half.
- Golden State used one of its pet plays to get an easy two, which drew a Pop timeout that might be in the top five quickest ones of all time. A four-point play by Poole pushed the Warriors out to 63-46. From then, Walker IV accounted for the majority of San Antonio’s scoring, but the hosts were hardly able to dent their deficit. Collins made his presence felt in the interior on both ends. Free throws by Collins and a buzzer-beating three by Josh Primo helped narrow the Golden State lead to seven heading into the final frame.
- A corner three by Kuminga to start the fourth pushed the lead back out to ten. After some frenetic play resulting in minimal offense between the teams, Michelle Beadle quipped “this is just chaos now.” Threes by Primo followed by Wieskamp briefly closed San Antonio to within four. Primo banged home a difficult stepback over Otto Porter, Jr. to bring the Spurs within two. After a Kuminga lay-up, Primo took a pass from Keita Bates-Diop in transition and willed home a lay-in. Poole was the recipient of a generous foul call to net two free throws. After a lengthy time on the bench for Green and Walker IV, the Warriors playmaker checked back in to assist Poole on a floater, while the Spurs’ top scorer remained glued to the bench.
- Jones’ three brought San Antonio to within three. He then answered a Wiggins score with his own floater. After Kuminga was whistled for an offensive foul, Primo hit 1 of his 2 freebies. As a Collins and Landale frontline walled off several Warriors’ drives, Jones had two attempts go awry. Poole hit on both of his free throws to make it 98-94.
- After a Landale miss, Jones managed to dislodge Poole’s arm sleeve at the other end of the court, after which the Warriors swingman slipped on said arm sleeve after it fell to the ground with 20 seconds left. A successful Spurs challenge on the phantom foul call resulted in a center court jumpball. The Warriors won the tip and escaped with the road win despite the harder-than-expected closing frenzy.
For the Warriors fan’s perspective, please visit Golden State of Mind.
San Antonio closes out its regular season campaign tomorrow with its last SEGABABA against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night at 8:30 PM CT.