Spurs Stave off Elimination and Stun Lethargic Warriors in 103-91 Win
After a strong second half pushed the Warriors over the top in Game Three, the Golden State Warriors (3-0) were looking to finish off a sweep of the San Antonio Spurs (0-3) in Game Four to clinch a matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. After rolling their ankles late in Game Three, Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston both were good to go for game three, and the only absence would be Steph Curry, who was inching toward the return we have all been waiting for. The Spurs were looking to avoid a first-round sweep at the hands of the best team in basketball, but would have to do so without their head coach. Coach Popovich was missing his second consecutive game after the death of his wife. The Spurs went on to win 103-90.
The Spurs were solid right from the tip off and got out to an early lead in the first quarter. They hit two threes, one from DeJounte Murray and another from Danny Green. The issue early was that the Warriors were clearly playing without much intensity and were looking disinterested and slow. In the first five minutes, the Warriors turned the ball over five times. Kevin Durant did hit an early three to keep the Warriors right in the mix before Steve Kerr called a timeout, but it was clear that the Warriors had fallen slightly back into their regular season malaise. After that timeout, the Warriors committed another turnover, but the Spurs were unable to capitalize on it, so the Warriors got the ball back and Kevin Durant nailed another three to tie the game at 10. The Warriors were struggling to score the ball early, as they weren’t moving around a lot or making particularly good passes. The Spurs were able to keep scoring because they were getting open looks from all over the court. The Spurs weren’t shooting the ball well by any means, but they were getting better quality shots than the Warriors. Even though the Warriors were unable to get high quality shots early in the game, they were able to get open looks towards the end of the quarter. They managed to put up some points in the last couple of minutes, and two of those points came on a dunk from David West off of a perfect pass from Kevin Durant. The Spurs kept scoring though, as they were able to make open threes for the first time all series. Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for the Warriors, finishing the quarter with eight points, and he was the only Warrior to score more than one time. LaMarcus Aldridge was leading the way for the Spurs with eight points, and Rudy Gay was right behind him with six points. Neither team was shooting the ball particularly well, but the Spurs were shooting better than the Warriors. The Spurs shot a combined 44%, while the Warriors were shooting 37.5%. The big difference though, was turnovers. The Warriors committed six turnovers in the opening quarter, while not forcing the Spurs to commit a single turnover. After the first quarter, the Spurs led the Warriors 30-22.
Draymond Green opened up the second quarter with a corner three, and he was doing a good job ar orchestrating the offense early in the quarter. Just before the Spurs called timeout after two minutes, Draymond hit Shaun Livingston with a perfect pass to set him up for a thunderous dunk. The Warriors finally forced a turnover out of the Spurs before the timeout was called, but they also committed two more, bringing their total to eight. After the timeout, the Spurs exploded while the Warriors still were lethargic. The Spurs hit a couple more threes, were taking and making open shots. The Warriors were still turning the ball over a ton, racking up 10 by the time a second timeout was called with just over three minutes left in the quarter. The Spurs were just flat-out playing better and harder than the Warriors, and that led to their biggest lead of the series, 15 points. After the final timeout, the Warriors were still unable to get anything that resembled a consistent offensive effort. They did make a couple shots, including a Klay Thompson three, but the rest of the team’s shooting was absolutely brutal. They continued to leave Spurs open on defense, including DeJounte Murray, who made all three of his shots from beyond the arc. The Spurs were getting a better effort from top to bottom than the Warriors were. Leading the Spurs was Murray, who had 11 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay both had 10 points of their own. As a team, the Spurs were shooting 44.7% overall and 46.7% from three. Kevin Durant was the only player on the Warriors in double figures, and he had 12 points on 5/13 shooting. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green both had five points and were the next-highest scorers on the team. The Warriors shot a combined 34% from the field and 30.8% from three. The Spurs were still winning the turnover battle, committing only one while the Warriors committed 10. At halftime, the Spurs led the Warriors 56-42.
Klay Thompson opened up the third quarter with a three to get the ball rolling for the Warriors, and that was followed up by a perfect jumper from the free throw line from Kevin Durant. The Spurs did not score in the first three minutes, and the Kevin Durant jumper forced a Spurs timeout. The Warriors offense was able to stay hot out of that timeout for a couple minutes, but then it faded once again a the Spurs picked up their energy on both sides of the ball. LaMarcus Aldridge nailed two threes, and the Warriors were still turning the ball over and committing a lot of offensive fouls. After the second time out of the quarter, Kevin Durant nailed another three to get the Warriors back into it. The Warriors offense was much better to close out the rest of the quarter, and Kevin Durant was largely responsible for that. Durant put up 13 points in the third quarter, bringing his total to 25 points. Shaun Livingston and David West were also getting involved in the offense, with Livingston throwing down another slam and West hitting a couple mid range jumpers. The Warriors were shooting much better, and their field goal percentage rose from 34% to 41.2%. The Spurs were still shooting the ball very well, with six different players hitting a three, and three of those players hit two or more. As a team, the Spurs ended the third quarter shooting 42.4% from the floor and 50% from three. The Warriors did manage to take a big but out of the deficit and the score heading to the fourth quarter was 77-71.
The beginning of the fourth quarter saw the Warriors get into a little bit of a groove offensively, thanks largely to Kevin Durant, and they kept chipping away at the lead. The Spurs were still getting their shots to fall, but the Warriors were beginning to heat up by the time the Spurs called timeout after nearly six minutes of game time. After the timeout, Kevin Durant drained a three to cut the lead to just two points. The Warriors then fouled Manu Ginobili, and he made both his free throws. After the free throws, the Warriors had two offensive possessions in which they came up empty, followed by a turnaround bank-shot from three by LaMarcus Aldridge as the shot clock expired to bring the lead back up to seven points. Durant then nailed an and-1 layup, but then Manu nailed a three. The Spurs then took over thanks to several impressive shots from Aldridge and Manu to ice the game. The Spurs won the game 103-90.
This game was not a good one for the Warriors in nearly every single way. They shot the ball very badly, at 37.8% overall and 25% from three. They did not play good defense, and left the Spurs wide open on the perimeter nearly all game. They let the Spurs shoot 45.7% overall, but 53.8% from three. For some reference here, the Spurs ranked 28th in the league in terms of 3pt% at 34.8%, and were shooting the ball horribly from distance in all three of the previous games. So, it was really a combination of luck and poor perimeter defense from the Warriors. Four different Spurs hit three threes, and those four Spurs were LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, and DeJounte Murray. Aldridge was the leading scorer for the Spurs with 22 points, and Manu was right behind him with 18 points.
The Warriors just did not play well today, it is as simple as that. They came out of the gate with very little energy, and looked like knew they had a good chance to win the game even without the energy output that they showed in Game One. Kevin Durant did end up scoring 34 points on 12/28 shooting, while also grabbing 13 rebounds. He went 4/13 from beyond the arc, which is beginning to look like a trend in this postseason run, as he has shot the ball poorly from three in each game. Klay Thompson had 12 points on 4/16 shooting, so he was not good today either. You could probably make a solid argument that his poor shooting is the reason that the Warriors lost this game.
Draymond Green had a very good all-around game, despite shooting the ball poorly. He had nine points on 4/14 shooting, while also grabbing 18 rebounds and dishing out nine assists. He was leading the charge in the one aspect of the game that the Warriors did well, rebounding, and more specifically, offensive rebounding. The Warriors outrebounded the Spurs 61-34, and they also out-offensive rebound them 24-7. The rebounding is the one thing the Warriors did better than the Spurs. That’s it.
Now the Warriors will go back to Oakland to try and close out the Spurs and advance to take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
Game Five of this opening round series is on Tuesday, April 24, in Oakland at 7:30 p.m. on TNT.