A severely undermanned Golden State Warriors team traveled to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Monday night.
The Warriors would once again be without three of their All-Stars in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. It seemed like a game that the Spurs could win easily, and it appeared that was to be the case as they jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half. But the Warriors fought back, holding a four-point lead in the final quarter. But led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth, pulled away to earn a much-needed 89-75 win.
The Warriors’ last All-Star goes down
The biggest piece of news from Monday night’s game was that Draymond Green left the game in the second quarter with a midsection injury. It was officially diagnosed as a pelvic contusion and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the game.
X-rays on Green were negative but, nevertheless, it was still disconcerting to see another important player for the Warriors suffer an injury that forced them out of action.
That said, the injury did not appear to be particularly serious and this was the Warriors being extra cautious as the playoffs get closer. It wouldn’t surprise me if Green was back in the Warriors lineup sooner rather than later.
Cook continues to cook
For the second straight game, Quinn Cook shined for the Warriors. Once again taking Curry’s place in the starting lineup, Cook led all Warriors players with 20 points. It’s Cook’s third-straight game with 20+ points, as he’s been putting on display some of the ability he’s shown with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.
When the Spurs looked poised to run away with the game in the first half, Cook kept things close for the Warriors.
Quinn Cook trying to lead the Warriors back all by himself pic.twitter.com/03AJvTle2g— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 20, 2018
Cook finished the game with five rebounds and five assists as well while also providing the Warriors with offensive energy, as he pushed the ball up court and lead the fast break.
With these three games of impressive play, Cook is making a pretty convincing case to be a part of the Warriors’ postseason roster. The energy and scoring Cook brings is something the Warriors have been missing from their bench units this season and would be particularly valuable in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the playoffs.
One injured Warriors player who returned to action on Monday night was Patrick McCaw. After missing the previous 13 games with a fractured wrist, McCaw saw his first game action in a month against the Spurs.
Though he scored just three points, McCaw looked good and aggressive. It’s clear he has rust from not playing in a game for so long, but the effort was there. The issue that has plagued McCaw for much of the 2017-18 season has been hesitance. He’s wavered when he has the open shot, which has led to missed shots or turnovers as he tries to force the ball to a teammate.
On Monday night, McCaw did not look hesitant. Instead, McCaw played with a focus and energy that has been absent for much of the season.
McCaw also came up with a nice defensive play, blocking Pau Gasol’s shot late in the third quarter.
This is a phenomenal block by Pat McCaw. Great timing/instincts (it also helped that it was Pau Gasol...) pic.twitter.com/MkcIReZJf3— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 20, 2018
McCaw’s season has been largely underwhelming, but if he can continue to bring the energy he displayed against the Spurs while getting into a rhythm so those shots start falling, then he could still be the player everyone expected him to be this season.
Looney shines off the bench
Another player who played well against the Spurs and has been making substantial contributions in this recent stretch was Kevon Looney. Looney finished the game with 12 points, the Warriors’ leading scorer coming off of the bench. It was the first time in Looney’s career that he scored in double figures in consecutive games.
Looney also showed off some new moves and skills to get those points.
I had no clue Kevon Looney could do this (neither did you...) pic.twitter.com/9riD8L12fT— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) March 20, 2018
Looney sinks the jumper to give the Dubs their first lead of the night pic.twitter.com/YmGrRdvILo— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 20, 2018
Looney also played well on the defensive end. Looney finished the game with six defensive rebounds, three steals, and one blocked shot. While he most likely won’t play extensively in the playoffs, Looney will have to be in for important minutes, particularly against a team like the Rockets, that could swing a game from a win to a loss. Thus, seeing him have a good stretch of basketball heading into the postseason is a welcome sight.
Turnovers, offensive rebounds, and poor three-point shooting
Though there were quite a few bright spots, particularly given that it was going to be very tough to get the victory while missing all that talent, some of the typical problems for the Warriors were on display in San Antonio and ended up seriously hurting their chances.
Once again, the Warriors displayed their proclivity for turning the ball over, tallying 15 of them against the Spurs. Cook, McCaw, and Nick Young accounted for eight of those turnovers, while the usually steady David West had four of his own.
The other area in which the Warriors struggled mightily was keeping the Spurs off of the offensive glass. The Spurs pulled down 11 offensive rebounds, keeping possessions alive and giving them more opportunities to make shots, scoring 11 second-chance points to the Warriors’ four.
The Spurs also had eight more field goal attempts than the Warriors, a disparity that while not enormous is still not ideal and reflected their ability to get those offensive rebounds as well as the Warriors giving them extra shot attempts through their turnovers.
The third area in which the Warriors struggled against the Spurs was from three-point range. The Warriors shot just 15.8% from long distance on Monday night. Even in their previous three games without Curry, Thompson, or Durant, the Warriors still managed to shoot a respectable percentage from three-point range. But against the Spurs, those shots didn’t fall and thus the Warriors weren’t able to get the victory.
Nevertheless, it was an impressive performance by the Warriors, missing all four of their All-Stars and facing a Spurs team fighting for its playoff position. The Warriors will be back in action again on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks, a game that might feature the return of one of those All-Stars—Stephen Curry.
Who was your Warrior Wonder for the Warriors’ loss to the Spurs?
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