The last time the Warriors won at the AT&T Center, Stephen Curry was 8 years old. The undefeated home record of the Spurs was suffocating in its implications on Saturday. The focus of the perennial contenders remained zeroed-in at the task of defending Stephen Curry - effectively dictating the pace of the game. With the Spurs at full squad, and the Warriors without three of their best half-court players and defenders, this had all the makings of a speed vs. power fight, in the most pinnacle sense.
Rush took the start tonight and Kerr decided to slide Barnes over to power forward. And why not? If the Warriors couldn't play big without their two prime centers, Steve certainly didn't entertain the idea of pretending to. Green got the nod over Varejao and Speights.
Draymond Green - Back-to-back nights and blunting the blows of a rolling LaMarcus Aldridge proved to be a tall task for Green tonight. LaMarcus was able to shoot over Draymond from mid-range, and without Bogut, Green would leave his man to flash help in the paint. In these instances, LaMarcus would fill the lane off the ball, and that was recognized by Pop's men, immediately. Aldridge was too big to push out of the paint, and once he caught it, Green was severely under-matched against that sort of skill/size.
That said, Green is truly a franchise leader. When Curry couldn't get it done, there was a stretch during the mid-late 2nd quarter where Green looked absolutely determined to take matters into his own hands. He took the ball away from Duncan and started a fast break. When the Warriors came up empty, Dray took it to the rack and threw it down. The next possession, Curry was struggling with the trap and cycled it over to Green with a dwindling clock. He took it to the rim aggressively again and went to the line. This was when the game was threatening to pull away beyond a 10-point spread. Draymond was consciously fighting that on both ends. It was a thing to see.
(LaMarcus Aldridge halftime stats: 6-12 FG's, 12 points, 6 rebounds, 18 minutes, 0 turnovers, +10)
- Curry looked to hit cutters early, but was irritated by the Spurs' blitzing onslaught of closing double-teams. They often looked to force him sideline on the wing, and he was forced to rush his passes to either the interior, or across court. Steph played hurried. His shooting was also defective. It was obvious he was fatigued from his stellar performance against Dallas last night, but the Spurs were also masterly in their preparation. (Curry went 0-6 in the 1st quarter.)
Boris Diaw - 3/3 shooting to open the game. Harrison Barnes was able to hold position well against Diaw with his strength, but lacked the technique to handle Diaw's post play. (Diaw 6-7 FG's, 14 pts) Harrison lost the scoring matchup, (3-10, 8 pts) plus the rebounding battle. (HB 2 BD 8) If Harry remains a Warrior next year, one of his off-season endeavors should be to improve his defensive footwork in the post with Ron Adams.
Brandon Rush - Personally, I'll continue to say that Brandon Rush is a better fit for the starting lineup than Harrison. That's not to say that B-Rush should start, but the Warriors brass should look at that formula, closely. All due respect to HB's defensive versatility, but Brandon seems to be more effective within the flow of the offense. His defensive effort and confidence was on display tonight. He hit his first two shots, including a three.
Both teams combined: 1-11 from 3pt in 1st quarter
Spurs: 8 turnovers in the 1st quarter - Keeps Warriors in game
Steve Kerr - Best technical foul of the year. Coach was pissed and it was glorious. Stevie went crimson and LB quickly ran to help Walton shackle him. Kerr wasn't prepared to give up. He struggled there and fired off an impressive 11-hit combo of obscenities while Pop watched on like a choir boy. Duncan later came over during a foul review and the two former teammates had a light-hearted banter over it.
Shaun Livingston - He generally keeps calm and is patient in these types of games. S-Dot was 1 of 3 Warriors who finished in the plus category tonight. He finished the 1st quarter with a flurry. Livingston stripped Timmy in the high post and took it to the other coast for a heavily defended, botched layup. Draymond was all alone for the trailing offensive rebound and put it back in. The Warriors pulled within 1 point (16-17). Seconds later, Shaun tipped a pass away and started the fast break again. The game clock was winding down, so he went to the baseline and pulled up for 17-foot fadeaway. It gave the Warriors the lead (18-17) and the quarter expired.
Manu Ginobili - He went 3-4 tonight from 3pt range, and they were all big, timely shots. Kobe Bryant and others have told us time and again of Manu's competitive spirit. He was the dagger for SA tonight. He hit shots that hurt. He seemed to slap the Warriors in the face as soon as they started to smile a bit. His shooting hurt, but he also logged 3 turnovers. Manu played great help defense on Klay, and was key in the defensive rotations that mitigated the Warriors outside shooting.
McAdoo is gaining trust from the coaching staff, and for good reason. He is one of the most active players on the roster when he takes the court, and has a gift for getting open. (2-2 FG's 4 pts)
Harrison Barnes - He hit a big shot late in the game. But, for the most part, Harrison continued to struggle tonight in his awkward play since his injury, a quarter into the season. When the ball came to him, and there was no pass in the cycle, there's a split moment of overlay where you can almost see Barnes make the conscious decision to "create something." It looks forced and manufactured, and his shots have been falling flat. He visibly sinks, running back on defense. When the ball came to him at one point in the 3rd quarter, he passed up a wide open 14-footer, and passed it out to Klay, who immediately fired a defended 26-foot jumper, and missed.
Danny Green - He took Curry to task. Whether it was blocking his shot, or leading the double-team, Danny Green took advantage of Curry's off-night by playing smothering defense. He finished the game +20.
Klay Thompson - He created a lot of space for his offense inside the 3pt line tonight. He's getting much better with his touch around the rim, and wasn't hesitant about shooting over shorter defenders in the post. He even made a nice little hook from 8 feet away in the 3rd quarter. Klay is a legitimate superstar since the all-start break. He played Leonard extremely well in the 1st quarter, and continued to limit his offense. (Leonard 5-14 FG's, 39 mins).
- Curry and the Warriors are attacking the paint now and scoring inside. Green and Barbosa have made up their mind to change the game at the rim. Despite a 1-12 night from 3pt, Steph decides to follow suit. Warriors take the lead and the game begins to see-saw. The complexion changes from a turnover-fest, fast-break clanker for the Warriors, into a one-armed, heavyweight slugfest. The Spurs have the advantage in the possession game: Spurs rebounds: 53 Warriors rebounds: 37
- Anderson Varejao had the best pass of the game. He passed across his body and whipped a dime through the defense with a left hand for a streaking Barnes dunk from about 19 feet away. Amazing. Andy is going to be part of the sequel next year, methinks.
- Barnes and Rush combine forces to hit two back-to-back three-pointers.
- The Warriors are fighting valiantly, but are outsized on defense, and the Spurs collected a lot of their own misses during very crucial stretches of the game. They took their time with the ball, and dominated the clock in the 4th quarter. The Warriors were helpless to their will, and the Spurs often went to Aldridge. Barnes was guarding LaMarcus during the final run, and was helpless in contesting his shot.
- Danny Green hit a 3-pointer in the final 2:30, and the Spurs bled the clock down.
All in all, this was an interesting game. We were offered a glimpse of the Warriors through a different lens - We saw how they fared against the best competition in the league with a heavily modified lineup. We also saw how bad they wanted to win in San Antonio despite being exhausted and out-manned. This was a good game to sort of "test the mettle" of Curry's supporting cast. It certainly did, and Warrior fans should be satisfied with the result. It would have been nice to win obviously, but the team came ready to play after putting together 4 good quarters last night.
Next Game - Monday vs. Timberwolves