Friday, October 14, 2016

Warriors edge Spurs in Oakland, 110-100.

The top two teams in the Western Conference, and by record the entire league, faced off in dramatic fashion. It was neck-and-neck throughout the game, with the Warriors and Spurs both sputtering to really execute at their best.

In the first half, the Spurs defense hobbled the fast-paced style of Golden State, getting blocks, neutralizing Steph Curry as best as humanly possible, a task not easily carried out by Tony Parker, who did a decent job. Coach Popovich later revealed, "I told Tony his mission was to guard Steph with 100% effort and he did. It just didn't work out for us tonight for other reasons. But I'm proud of our guys. Made a late run, missed a couple of good shots, made some mistakes. Just didn't execute like we know we're capable of doing. But we'll see this team again and it'll--it'll be interesting."

Coach Popovich appeared frustrated at times on the sideline. His main firepower went 'dud' for the former Air Force member tonight, with both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green misfiring too often for the Spurs to develop any real flow. Coach Pop was forced to experiment with his lineups, and Dwayne Dedmon had a poor game, David Lee's usual spark off the bench fizzled, and even Pau Gasol (who scored 27 in a huge win versus the Cavaliers) underwhelmed.

However, the Spurs were still in the game until the 4th quarter when the Warriors gained a lead. (It was a virtual tie game for 3 quarters, other than an early 1st Qtr lead for SA.) Kawhi Leonard had 5 fouls and went to the bench, and the Warriors lead grew behind 25 points from new arrival Kevin "OKC" Durant. Klay Thompson had an off night (2-15 FG%), but Danny Green didn't fare much better being the one guarding him, missing 3PTers he'd usually make. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala had bad nights, too, and only Shaun Livingston was able to utilize his athletic skill against their mighty foe. San Antonio knocked off a couple of runs late and had a chance to take that late lead with the potential to take it home, but their attempts fizzled being tied and then being down by only 3 at one point, only for Manu Ginobili to miss in crunch time.

The Spurs managed to cut the lead to 5 in the final minute, but following 3PTers missed and the game was decided. Steph Curry had an off night as well, but made up for it with 15 assists and 15 points. For the Spurs, Tony Parker had 17 and Kawhi still had 18, but not a strong 18 by any means. Gasol had 10 rebounds, but the bench did not contribute enough to supplement the poor showing by the stars. San Antonio's flashes of stellar shooting proficiency made fans nervous, but the Warriors held on during the most crucial moments. Klay Thompson iced it at the free throw line.

Things will certainly be interesting when the rematch happens later this season in San Antonio for a change, and most likely again in the playoffs, as the defending champion Texans hope to withstand the new 'death lineup' of the Golden State Warriors. Hopefully next time, both teams' strengths will be more established and reliable. Notably the defense by San Antonio was on point, and the only decisive quarter was the final one, and the Spurs still had a chance to steal it. But they lost.