Both teams had been scuffling a bit, the Warriors (save for Monday night’s victory over the Clippers) had been playing sloppy and inconsistent basketball while the Spurs lost three-straight road games to the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics. Wednesday night’s game at the AT&T Center would be a tale of two halves, with the Spurs jumping out to an early lead in the first half before the Warriors came out strong in the second as they pulled away for a 112-92 victory over their Western Conference rivals.
The game did not start out well for Golden State. The Spurs took command of the game on 3-pointers from both LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol as well as a thunderous dunk by Danny Green on Kevin Durant. Warriors fans, I would advise you to look away now...
OK, you can look again.
Unfortunately, the bad habits that the Warriors seemed to have corrected against the Clippers reappeared in a big way. The Warriors turned the ball over 14 times against the Spurs, with Zaza Pachulia was responsible for two, including one on an in-bounds play where he wasn’t fully out of bounds before he inbounded the ball. The bulk of these Warriors turnovers occurred in the first half, allowing the Spurs to take more shots and thus extend their lead.
These mistakes by the Warriors coupled with the Spurs hot shooting and aided by their offensive rebounding (as they pulled down four of their 14 in the first) led to the Spurs holding a 19-point lead with just three minutes to go in the quarter. Aldridge was an integral part of that strong Spurs start, scoring 11 of his 24 points in the game’s first frame while going 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
However, the Warriors cut the lead to single digits, going on a 12-5 run after head coach Steve Kerr earned a technical foul for arguing with the referees.
Steve Kerr protesting a non-call on LaMarcus Aldridge: "Are you going to f--king call anything?" pic.twitter.com/O94rDMUkPG— Logan Murdock (@loganmmurdock) November 3, 2017
When the first quarter was over, the Warriors trailed only by 9 with Stephen Curry going on a personal 8-0 run to close out the first quarter of play.
You have to wonder how it’s possible anybody would fall asleep for a second while guarding Curry in an end of quarter situation pic.twitter.com/gfgaMptA98— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) November 3, 2017
With the Warriors playing about as poorly as they could (Kevin Durant shot 0 for 6 from the field in the quarter) while the Spurs shot the ball better than they had in the past few games, there had to be a feeling of relief in the Golden State huddle to only down by 9.
The Spurs picked up where they left off in the second, extending the lead to 16 points with four minutes to go in the second quarter. Part of why the Spurs were able to keep control of the game was because of Durant’s early-game struggles. Durant’s poor offensive play continued into the second quarter as he lost the ball numerous times resulting in Spurs points.
What seemed to be causing Durant’s trepidation on the offensive end was inconsistent officiating. On contact that usually resulted in a foul call (even in this game), the officials’ whistles stayed silent and there was no foul called. This led him to be a bit more hesitant, thinking about what he needed to do in the eyes of the officials to draw the foul. This is what happened on Durant’s traveling call midway through the second, where he tried to draw enough contact to get a foul called but ended up taking too many steps.
However, Durant began to get out of this shooting slump with three and a half minutes to go in the quarter. Durant sank a 24-foot 3-pointer that cut the Spurs lead to 10. The Warriors closed the quarter, after Durant’s 3-pointer, on a 9-4 run that left the Spurs with just a five-point lead at halftime.
The Warriors started the second half out with a bang, getting a quick 5 points from Draymond Green and tying the game at 55.
It was good to see Green—who finished with 16 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds— making big shots given how much he’s struggled from the offensive end early on in the season. While much is made, and rightly so, about the prolific offensive contributions of Curry, Durant, and Klay Thompson, it is Green’s offense that takes the Warriors from great to unstoppable. I am certainly not alone in thinking or noticing this.
Warriors are so much better when Draymond (or Iguodala) is scoring. Just need one of them scoring and it's a rocket-blast.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 3, 2017
The Warriors took the lead on a Durant 3-pointer and continue to increase their lead throughout. It was Durant, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the third and breaking out of this prolonged offensive cold stretch, who allowed the Warriors to push their advantage and take a six-point lead into the final quarter.
One problem that emerged for the Spurs was, outside of Aldridge, their lack of consistent scoring. By the end of the game, the Spurs would only have three players (Aldridge, Pau Gasol, and Kyle Anderson) scoring in double figures with Gasol and Anderson being the only Spurs who played meaningful minutes that shot about 50% from the field.
The game went back-and-forth in the beginning of the fourth quarter, with the Warriors pushing the lead to double digits before the Spurs came back to make it a seven-point game. However, the Warriors never let the Spurs get back into the game as Thompson (who scored seven of his 27 points in the fourth) made sure there was a Warriors answer to every Spurs run.
Thompson did not contribute just on offense, as he showed off a little defense as well in the fourth quarter.
Klay blocked an Aldridge dunk and it sent bench into a quick, shocked mosh pit celebration. Start shown in corner pic.twitter.com/UiSPaD84QP— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 3, 2017
In what has become a recurring thing this season, Thompson defended a much larger opposing player and did well. Thompson’s defense, particularly that defense against bigger players who like to post up, has been good so far this season and is a nice thing to see out of the guard.
The Spurs shooting regressed back to the mean as well. While the Spurs were shooting 41.7% from the field at halftime and 38.9% from 3-point range, by the end of the game they would be shooting 39.1% and 29.2% respectively. The Spurs would also experience their own turnover problems as well, as many of their game-high 16 turnovers came in the second half, allowing the Warriors to extend that lead.
Another factor in shutting down any Spurs attempt to get back into this game was Patrick McCaw. The second-year guard came off of the bench and knock down two 3-pointers in the quarter to seal the game for Golden State.
Whether because of McCaw’s long-distance shooting or what he saw as inconsistent officiating, Popovich gave the officiating crew an earful and was summarily ejected from the game.
By this point, the game was for all intents and purposes over and Popovich was merely getting a head-start on his game plan for the Charlotte Hornets tomorrow night. The final four minutes of the game passed by as the Warriors sealed their 112-92 victory.
It’s hard to read too much into this game given the absences of both Leonard and Parker. On the one hand, we saw the Warriors revert to many of the bad habits that have plagued them throughout the 2017-18 season (turnovers, sloppy play). On the other hand, there were able to not only turn it on in the second half to pull away for a 20-point win but they did this against a presumptive Western Conference power (even one missing some important players).
Beyond this, seeing Green continue to get back into rhythm on offense, as his 16 points will attest, is perhaps the most important takeaway from this game. While his performance in all the other facets of the game have been strong, Green has struggled on offense so far. Having Green get back on track as a scoring threat will go a long way to help the Warriors get on track as well. Hopefully Green, along with Andre Iguodala (whose only field goal was a 3-pointer), can continue to get on track offensively on Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets.
Who was your Warriors Wonder against the Spurs?
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