SAN ANTONIO – With apologies to the late, great Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again.
Down by as many as 19 points in the first half, the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors stormed back to take a 112-92 victory against the shorthanded Spurs on Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
The meeting was the first between the teams since the Warriors completed a sweep of the Silver and Black with a 129-115 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals last season on the same floor.
The Spurs were shorthanded in that game too, playing without All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard and veteran point guard Tony Parker. Both are rehabbing quad injuries and have yet to play this season. Forward/center Joffrey Lauvergne also was sidelined Thursday night, missing his fifth consecutive game with an ankle injury.
The Warriors (6-3) were led by the dynamic trio of Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Thompson led all scorers with 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, and Durant finished with 24 points. Durant was 1 of 9 in the first half and scored only five points, but he made 8 of 9 attempts in the last two quarters. He finished 9 of 18 overall and was 2 of 4 from the three-point line.
Curry scored 21 points, making 7 of 13 shots, including 3 of 4 three-pointers.
The Spurs (4-4) lost their fourth game in a row for the first time since February 2015, the season after they won their last championship.
"Let me just say whether you win a game or lose a game, it's a game of mistakes," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Both teams have turnovers. There are missed shots, there are bad decisions, passes that should be made or aren't made, shots that shouldn't be shot or shot. So, you know, that's just sort of a moot point.
"We lost against the best team in the world and there's a lot of things we need to improve, but I can guarantee if (Warriors coach) Steve Kerr will shot film, there'll be things they go over just like we will, as far as mistakes are concerned."
Popovich struck a positive tone after the 20-point loss.
"It's just basketball," he said. "You know, you win, you lose, you go home. If you win, you do it with grace. If you lose, you try to do it with grace."
Aldridge led the San Antonio scoring with 24 points and Kyle Anderson, who has started in Leonard's spot at small forward since the beginning the season, added 16. Pau Gasol (11) was the only other Spur scoring in double figures. Aldridge also led the Silver and Black with 10 rebounds and finished with two blocks.
The Spurs led the Warriors 76-55 in the third quarter of Game 1 in the Western Conference finals last season before Leonard reinjured his left ankle while taking a shot from the corner. Fouled by Zaza Pachulia, Leonard made two free throws to put San Antonio up by 23 with 7:55 left in the third period. Leonard left the game a few seconds later and never played in the series again.
The Silver and Black already were playing without Parker, who ruptured a tendon in his left quadriceps in Game 2 of the conference semifinals.
S.A. led by as many as 19 points in the first quarter Thursday, and were ahead 33-24 going into the second period. By halftime, the Warriors trailed only 55-50. Golden State took its first lead in the third quarter and outscored San Antonio 34-23 to take an 84-78 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Turnovers helped the Warriors get back in the game after they trailed in the first half. They wound up scoring 23 points off 19 San Antonio turnovers.
"We just have to understand that we have to sustain the effort," Gasol said. "We were up. I think we committed a few turnovers that kind of gave them momentum. We were at a point where we just had to be solid. We didn't have to force anything.
"I guess we got a little carried away and they started making more shots. We knew that Kevin (Durant) wasn't going to be 1-for-9 in the second half, and they gained momentum. We didn't sustain the sharpness, and the aggressiveness, and the intensity, and the right plays on both ends that we started the game with."
Spurs forward Rudy Gay said the game got away late in the second quarter and the start of the second half.
"We lost our intensity," he said. "We have to learn how to play with the lead. We were playing well. The ball was moving. Defensively, we were helping each other. Then we let up."
That's all the Warriors needed to make one of their patented runs.
Golden State shot 51.8 percent overall (43-83) and 50 percent (14/28) from long distance. The Spurs had a tough shooting night, making only 39.1 percent (34/87) of their attempts. They were 29.2 percent (7/24) from the 3-point line.
Thursday night's clash was the start of a six-game homestand for the Spurs, who play Charlotte on Friday and Phoenix on Sunday. They square off against the Clippers on Tuesday before facing Milwaukee and Chicago in another back-to-back Nov. 10-11.
Final: Warriors 112, Spurs 92. The Silver and Black drop to 4-4 with their fourth consecutive loss. Spurs haven't dropped four in a row since February 2015.
Fourth quarter, 6:17: Warriors 96, Spurs 84
Fourth quarter, 10:47: Warriors 88, Spurs 78
End of third quarter: Warriors 84, Spurs 78. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the Silver and Black with 24 points and eight rebounds. Kevin Durant (20), Klay Thompson (20) and Stephen Curry (19) lead the Warriors' scoring.
Third quarter, 5:02: Warriors 72, Spurs 69.
First-half notes: LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs in scoring with 15 points. Klay Thompson (17) and Stephen
Curry (15) top the Warriors' scoring. . . . The Silver and Black never trailed in the first half, and led by as many as 19 points. The Spurs led 33-24 at one quarter, but the Warriors outscored the home team 26-22 to cut the deficit to five at intermission . . . Golden State shot 48.7 percent overall (19/39) and 53.3 percent from beyond the arc (8/15). San Antonio shot 41.1 percent overall (20/48) and 38.9 percent(7/18) from the three-point line.
Halftime: Spurs 55, Warriors 50
Second quarter, 2:09: Spurs 52, Warriors 43. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the Silver and Black with 15 points.
Second quarter, 7:05: Spurs 46, Warriors 35
Spurs scoring leader: LaMarcus Aldridge had 11 points in the first period, hitting 4 of 8 shots, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
End of first quarter: Spurs 33, Warriors 24
SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black to face Warriors without Leonard, Parker – again
Golden State Warriors (5-3) vs. Spurs (4-3)
When, where: 7 p.m., Thursday, AT&T Center
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Warriors 129, Spurs 115, Game 4, Western Conference finals, May 22, 2017, AT&T Center
Warriors’ last game: Beat Clippers 141-113, Monday, Los Angeles
Spurs’ last game: Lost to Celtics 108-94, Monday, Boston
Notable: The Spurs haven’t lost four consecutive regular-season games since February 2015, when they fell to the Clippers, Warriors, Jazz and Trail Blazers, all on the road.
SAN ANTONIO – The last time they took the court against Golden State, the Spurs were shorthanded and on the brink of playoff elimination after losing the first three games of the Western Conference finals to the Warriors last spring.
Golden State raced to a 129-115 victory in Game 4 on May 22, completing a series sweep against a team that was missing All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard and veteran point guard Tony Parker, both out with injuries. Another Spurs player, steady backup forward/center David Lee, hurt a knee in Game 3 and did not suit up for Game 4.
Not much has changed for the Silver and Black, who host the Warriors on Thursday night, since they were bounced from the playoffs by a team that went on to win its second NBA title in three years.
Leonard and Parker have yet to play this season as they rehab quad injuries. Parker could be back by mid-November, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has given no timetable for Leonard’s return.
The team’s injury list got longer when forward/center Joffrey Lauvergne, a free agent who was signed this summer to essentially replace Lee, sprained his right ankle in a game against Toronto on Oct. 23. He hasn’t played since then, and his absence has cut into the Spurs’ frontcourt depth.
Thursday night’s game will feature two teams that already have three losses each. Unlike the past three seasons, Golden State (5-3) hasn’t gotten off to a scorching start.
“It is early for everybody,” Spurs guard Danny Green said Wednesday after practice. “I don’t think anybody is playing their best basketball, playing well right now. Some teams are, surprisingly. We’re not. I don’t think they (Warriors) are.
“It’s another game, it’s another challenge for us to get better. Hopefully, we’ll continue to move in the direction we need while the other guys try to get healthy.”
The Warriors lost two of their first three games before winning three in a row. They dropped a home game to Detroit on Sunday, but bounced back with a resounding 141-113 rout of the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday.
The Spurs (4-0) jumped out to a 4-0 start this season, but lost consecutive road games to Orlando, Indiana and Boston in a span of four days.
“It’s a test because you want to grow and you want to get better,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said of the matchup with the Warriors. “You want to play the best. Especially against them, we need Kawhi for sure. But we don’t have him and we’re not going to be crying about it. We’re going to try to play our best game and get the win anyway.”
Golden State (67-15) and San Antonio (61-21) finished with the NBA’s best records last season. The Spurs sent Memphis and Houston packing in the first two rounds of the playoffs before starting the conference finals against the Warriors on the road.
Already playing without Parker, who ruptured a tendon in his left quadriceps in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against Houston, the Silver and Black were dealt a crippling blow when Leonard reinjured his left ankle in the opener of the series with Golden State.
Leonard, who had sprained the ankle in Game 5 of the conference semifinals, went down with about eight minutes left in Game 1 against Golden State. With the Spurs up 76-55, Leonard reinjured the ankle while shooting a jumper from the corner.
TV replays showed Warriors center Zaza Pachulia stepping on Leonard’s left foot as he contested the shot near the Spurs’ bench. Pachulia was whistled for a foul on the play. Leonard said later he didn’t think Pachulia was intentionally trying to injure him.
Leonard hit two free throws to put the Spurs up by 23 before leaving the game, but Golden State stormed back to pull out a 113-111 victory. Leonard never played in the series again.
Does Green ever look back and wonder what may have happened in the series if Leonard hadn’t gone down?
“I’m not a woulda, coulda, shoulda guy,” Green said. “It would have been nice, but what happened, happened. There’s nothing we can do about it. You’ve got to adapt and adjust, and move forward, and try to get better for this year.”
Ginobili echoed Green’s sentiments.
“I’m pretty sure that it happened with opponents against us many times,” Ginobili said, noting that the Spurs faced teams in the playoffs through the years that had players sidelined. “Sports is like this. Of course, we wished we had both of them (Leonard and Parker), and considering how the series started, it was pretty promising.
“It’s part of the game. It happens. Sometimes you’re on the bad side and the good side of it.”
Thursday night’s game will be Pachulia’s first in San Antonio since he crossed paths with Leonard. Pachulia sat out Games 3 and 4 of the conference finals at the AT&T Center with a heel injury.
Pachulia said that he and his family received death threats from people who blamed him for Leonard’s injury.
“Kind of forgot about it, to be honest with you,” Green said, when asked how the team feels about Pachulia. “It’s a play that happened. He’s a player, just like everybody else in this league obviously.
“He’s had some plays that were not so great for us in the past, but you’ve got to move forward. Can’t continue to look back and harp on things that don’t matter now.”
The Silver and Black haven't lost four consecutive regular-season games since February 2015.
"In 82 games, you're going to have streaks," Ginobili said. "We've been very lucky and good in the past that we never went through very tough streaks, and we got many good ones. The goal now is not just get out of the funk and get a win, it's just get better. Communicate better. Execute better. Be more aggressive and not just wait for the game to come to us. I think that's more important than getting wins."
Thursday night's clash with Golden State will be the start of a six-game homestand for the Spurs, who play Charlotte on Friday and Phoenix on Sunday. They play the Clippers on Tuesday before facing Milwaukee and Chicago in another back-to-back Nov. 10-11.
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