The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Golden State Warriors 92-86 in a game predicted on tough defense.
This is the first loss in San Antonio for the Spurs this season, and the first time the Warriors have won a regular season home game in San Antonio since February 14, 1997.
The Warriors kept their quest for 73 wins alive, tying the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins.
The Spurs came into this game not only having a perfect home record, but beating opponents by an average of 15 points at home. The Warriors were in for an uphill challenge to spoil the Spurs’ home winning streak, but proved up for the task in a gritty contest between the league’s top two teams.
Tim Duncan was inactive for this game, resting after being the only normal starter to play against the Denver Nuggets. David West started in his place. Boris Diaw also remained out with his right adductor injury.
The game was tight early, as neither team was able to develop prolonged offensive rhythm thanks to tenacious defense by both sides. The Spurs’ half court defense stymied the Warriors’ normally high octane offense early. The Spurs thrive when they’re able to force fast-paced teams like the Warriors to grind to a halt and not get out on the break.
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A poor-shooting performance by the Warriors characterized a low-scoring first quarter, with the Spurs holding a 19-14 advantage. The Warriors closed out the quarter on a nearly 5 minute scoring drought, capping their lowest scoring first quarter of the season.
The physicality was on full display in the 2nd quarter, as Patty Mills was crushed by a hard Brandon Rush screen, leading to a Stephen Curry layup. The Spurs continued to take advantage of second chance opportunities with hustle plays to obtain extra possessions with offensive rebounds. Frustration boiled over for Draymond Green after a Kawhi Leonard offensive rebound, getting called for not only a personal foul in the scrum, but also a technical foul.
Tough interior defense by the Spurs resulted in multiple misses for cutting Warriors players at point-blank range. Defense was on full display in another low-scoring quarter, with the two teams tied 35-35 heading into the break. The Warriors were able to close the gap thanks to a greatly improved field goal percentage compared to their lackluster shooting in the opening quarter.
Early turnovers by the Warriors lead to an 8-0 run by the Spurs to open up the 3rd quarter. Curry hit back-to-back 3s to answer, and Popovich called a quick timeout to try to prevent Curry from further heating up. The Warriors regained the lead after a 12-0 run of their own with the frenetic offense that fans are accustomed to.
After a relatively modest first half, Curry began to assert himself in the 3rd, perhaps motivated by Spurs’ fans chanting “MVP” for Leonard at the foul line earlier in the game. Curry even made a half court shot that was waved off to end the quarter, which made the Spurs’ faithful breathe a sigh of relief. The quarter ended with a score of 62-61 with the Warriors slightly ahead.
Harrison Barnes hit a couple big shots to open the 4th quarter for the Warriors, and took over the Warriors’ scoring charge as Curry rested. With Curry back on the court, the Warriors extended their lead to double digits for the first time all game.
The Spurs were held to a poor field goal percentage by a stingy Warriors’ defense, and Leonard struggled from the field despite his contributions on the boards and facilitating the Spurs’ offense.
The Spurs mounted a comeback attempt in the last minute of the game, but came up short. In a possible preview of the Western Conference Finals, this game didn’t disappoint.
The Spurs (65-15) next play in San Antonio on April 12 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors (72-9) go for the all time wins record on April 13 in Oakland against the Memphis Grizzlies.