Entries in Spurs (6)


Warriors survive Spurs — and here come the Pelicans

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — They had it. Then they didn’t. Then somehow, from the chaos that is NBA playoff basketball, a game of push, shove and teeth-grinding tension, the Warriors took it — survived, really — which wasn’t what was expected but, hey, it was the Spurs out there, not just any opponent.

And now Saturday come the New Orleans Pelicans, who with the “Brow,” Anthony Davis, a big man and a huge presence, could very well end the Dubs’ reign as champions. 

But that’s the next series, the next act, and after Tuesday night’s gasping victory over San Antonio — with a lead trickling away from 15 points with 10 minutes left to 7 points with 1:40 left to 2 points with 42 seconds left, and the sellout crowd at Oracle agonizing, the Dubs eventually winning, 99-91 — the future can wait.

A few days at least.

The Warriors took the first-round series from San Antonio four games to one, and as they say in golf it ain’t how but how many. After a loss in Texas, the Dubs did what was necessary — playing defense (the Spurs shot only 31 percent in the first half, 37 percent for the game) and handling the ball well, 10 turnovers to 13 for meticulous Spurs.

Asked what he wanted to focus on practicing for the Pelicans, who stunningly swept the Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round series, Kerr said, “Just the basics. You’ve got to defend, rebound and take care of the ball. That’s what wins in the playoffs.”

That’s what has been winning for the Warriors the past three years, especially now with the absence of two-time MVP Steph Curry. Golden State has won 12 straight home playoff games, the longest such streak since the Lakers in the seasons of 2009-10.

“Guys have to step up and make shots and all that stuff,” agreed Kerr. “But what you can control is critical, and that means, you know, not skipping any steps, boxing out and making the rotations; knowing the game plan and just competing like crazy.”

Which is what the aging Spurs did, without their head coach, Gregg Popovich — who after his wife died between games two and three stepped way and turned control of the team to his lead assistant, Ettore Messina.

In a class move following his formal post-game interview Tuesday night, the Warriors' often contentious Draymond Green stood up and asked for prayers for the man known as Pop, a mentor to Kerr, the Warriors' coach, and respected and admired through all basketball.

This was a moment of reflection after a game of suspense. The Warriors were up 9-0 right away. Easy, right? Then they trailed by 18. “I think they have done an incredible job on a night when the shots weren’t falling,” Messina said of his Spurs.

They weren’t falling because the Warriors weren’t allowing them to fall, harassing the shooters. Only the brilliant center LaMarcus Aldridge, 30 points on 8 of 18 and 14 for 14 from the line, and Patty Mills, the St. Mary’s alum, 18 points, did anything offensively for San Antonio.

For the Warriors, Kevin Durant, who was a poor 4 of 12 for three quarters, warmed up near the end. He finished with 25 points, one more than Klay Thompson (11 of 22 from the floor). Green had 17 points — and 19 rebounds.

“Draymond can literally do everything,” said Thompson. “So these last two games, he’s been rebounding like a beast, and his ability to take the ball from the rim and push the break is what sparks the offense so much.

“We expect him to continue to play with this edge, because when he does — and he’s played with great emotion and passion — that’s when he’s at his best.”

Which is what the Warriors will have to be if they’re going to advance.

“I’ve seen Anthony Davis,” said Thompson, “I’ve seen plenty of highlights of what he’s doing this postseason, and it’s amazing. So it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”

One night in the regular season, Davis scored 58 against the Phoenix Suns.

“We got to take it one game at a time, like the cliché goes,” said Thompson. ‘You can’t look ahead to the West finals or (NBA) finals. You have to beat the Pelicans, and they are playing really well right now.”


Newsday (N.Y.): Warriors defeat Spurs with recharged defense

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors went big in the lineup, and in their first playoff game in defense of their NBA championship, went big on the scoreboard.

With 6-6 Andre Iguodala at guard in place of the injured Steph Curry, the Warriors controlled the ball and the boards and overwhelmed the Spurs, 113-92, in the opener of their Western Conference first-round series Saturday. They outrebounded San Antonio 51-30.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2018 Newsday. All rights reserved. 


Warriors in a rout — but remember the Memorial Day Massacre

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — It was known as the Memorial Day Massacre. The Boston Celtics, at home, crushed the Los Angeles Lakers, 148-114, on Memorial Day 1985 in the opening game of the NBA finals.

What a rout. What a flop by the Lakers, who once more seemed destined to fail.

But it was only one game. And in basketball, as they say, the next one begins 0-0. And the Lakers won that game, and the third game, and defying tradition won the title in six games, the ultimate victory coming at the “massacre” site, Boston Garden.

Thirty-two years ago, of course, but as current as today, a reminder that nothing is certain, not even if you beat the Lakers by 34 points. Or if you whip the San Antonio Spurs by 36 points, 136-100, as the Warriors did on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals.

Sure, the Warriors, up two games to none, are in control. Or it would seem that way. The Spurs, after squandering a 25-point lead Sunday and being edged, were helpless Tuesday night. They were behind 33-16 after a quarter, and it got worse. A mismatch. Yet it was just one game.

Now the series moves to San Antonio for Game 3 on Saturday, and maybe Kawhi Leonard returns for the Spurs. And maybe the intensity and spirit return as well. At home and obviously in desperation, the Spurs will be a factor instead of a disaster.

“It’s a good team,” acting Warriors coach Mike Brown said of San Antonio. “I think they went on the road and beat Houston in a Game 6 (of the conference semis) where they didn’t have Kawhi.”

After that tentative warning, Brown pointed out that for the Warriors, with seven men scoring in double figures, with a defense that kept the Spurs to 37 percent, with a relentlessness evident from start to finish, “This was a good game.””

Not because the Dubs pushed the lead to 41 points near the end. Not because they made 18 of 37 three-pointers (yes, Steph Curry was the main man with 8 of 13 and 29 points, but Kevin Durant had 6 of 10 and 16 points). Rather, because of how they played, as compared to what they did.

“It doesn’t matter how many points you win by,” said Brown, who before the game was able to confer on site with the recovering Steve Kerr, for whom he is subbing.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you lose because sometimes things can just fall the other team’s way, but you do things the right way. So more than anything, yes, we want to win. But it’s how you play, too ... The score doesn’t really matter. It’s how we got to the score. It’s how we played defensively to the Spurs.“

They were missing Leonard, who re-injured his ankle stepping on the foot of the Warriors' Zaza Pachulia on Sunday. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said it was a dirty play by Pachulia. Maybe fate was listening. Pachulia left Tuesday’s game after roughly seven minutes because of a heel bruise.

Still more than Kawhi, Popovich suggested, the Spurs were missing their fire.

Tonight was not what I expected,” he said. “I’m disappointed. The only way I can process this is, I think, it’s not about X’s and O’s or rebounds or turnovers or anything like that. I think maybe we felt (Leonard’s absence) too much, Kawhi being gone, in the sense that, as I watched, I don’t think they believed. 

“And you have to believe. I don’t think as a group they really did, which means probably feeling sorry for themselves psychologically, subconsciously, whatever psycho-babble word you want to use ... I don’t think they started the game with a belief ... When you’re playing a team that’s as good as Golden State, you’re going to get embarrassed if that’s the way you come out. And we did. We didn’t come to play.”

The Warriors came, and they played, and they looked like the best team in the league, never mind the best team on the floor. It was the Warriors, flowing, racing, dominating, winning by 36 points.

But it was just one game.


S.F. Examiner: Is it Dirty Zaza or Unlucky Kawhi? Depends on who you support

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — The issue deals with laundry, more specifically uniforms, such as which ones are the bad guys wearing. Well, “bad guys” is over the top, or in this case, under the shoes. Let’s go with “opposition.”

By the Bay, that’s the Spurs. Deep in the heart of San Antonio it would be the Warriors and Zaza Pachulia.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Golden State reminded of why you play the games

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Very clever of the Warriors, trying to con the NBA into thinking they aren’t the best basketball team ever created. But it won’t work. We all know the NBA championship is theirs, and all they have to do is throw their Nikes, adidas and Under Armours on the court and they’ll win in a walk.

So they lost their very first game of the 2016-17 season, 129-100, to the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle. So a considerable portion of the sellout crowd left early.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner