Spurs can’t get up from another Warriors haymaker

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AT&T CENTER — The story was almost rewriting itself as the Warriors’ lead dwindled minute by minute in the fourth quarter. But the buildup stopped short of the final plot twist, and the Spurs failed to pull off what looked to be another potential theft of a playoff game.

But what didn’t change was the unworldly shooting of Golden State in its 100-91 Game 2 victory, a problem for San Antonio that doesn’t seem to be going away with time. They always say shooters eventually regress back to their mean, that a team can’t consistently live by the 3. Maybe history says that’s true, but if we’re watching the best-shooting backcourt duo the league has ever seen, the record books don’t apply. In fact, they’re being rewritten.

In Game 1, Stephen Curry lit the AT&T Center floor on fire. Wednesday night, Klay Thompson burned the building to the ground. The second-year shooting guard blew the game open in the first half, going for 29 points while hitting seven 3-pointers in the process before ending the game with a career high 34 points, including 8-for-9 from beyond the arc.

San Antonio went small in the second half and seemed to figure something out, but the damage had already been done.

“I have the greatest shooting backcourt that’s ever played the game,” Mark Jackson said at the podium. “Call my bluff.”

For now, it’s not worth trying. What Curry and Thompson have done in front of the San Antonio crowd the last two games has been almost unimaginable.

“I thought it was polite of them to at least take turns and not both be on fire on the same night,” Gregg Popovich. “Maybe the next iteration is neither one of them will be hot in Game 3.

“That’s what I’m hoping.”

It’s not an unreasonable wish from a Spurs perspective. The Spurs are bound to catch this team on a cold night, aren’t they? That’s how the NBA has and always will work, right?

RIGHT?

One would think, but through two games this series has defied all logic. Still, the Warriors dared the Spurs to repeat what they did on Monday night, and the chances to do so were there.

San Antonio cut a lead that reached 20 points with 8:33 remaining in the third to just six points with 4:23 left in the final period, but the shots that dropped on Monday bounced off the rim on Wednesday, and the energy the team finally found after the break dissipated as the minutes vanished from the scoreboard.

And what the Warriors are doing is cruel. Wherever Tony Parker is on the floor defensively, the ball is going right at him. Whether it’s Curry, Thompson or Harrison Barnes, Golden State is attacking the head of the Spurs’ snake.

Parker looks exhausted while San Antonio isn’t getting enough of anything offensively to put pressure on the Warriors. And even when the starting backcourt is contained, Jarrett Jack hits big shot after big shot in isolation situations to keep the game at arm’s length during the Spurs’ run.

But, for whatever it’s worth, the Spurs did make progress in the second half. With a combination of small-ball and an increased energy level on the defensive end, San Antonio cut away at the lead while the young Warriors looked to be crumbling again. But after Monday’s double-overtime miracle, after falling behind big once again, this team’s legs failed it.

“We were lacking the focus, the intensity, whatever you want to call it. That put us in a hole,” Tim Duncan said. “That second quarter really killed us. I don’t know what to say about it, honestly.

“We got a crew in there that found a little bit of rhythm defensively and started making stops,” he continued. “It was a good third quarter. The fourth quarter we just didn’t have enough gas to get back into it.”

And it’s a reason for optimism, however misguided it may be. The Spurs have shot the ball terribly for two consecutive games — they shot 39 percent on Wednesday, including 23 percent from deep and 66 percent from the line — and have taken two straight haymakers from Golden State. Regardless of whether their 3-point shooting is sustainable or not, San Antonio has taken two massive shots to the chin while not dishing out enough of its own.

Except one.

Yes, things have looked awful, and aside from roughly 24 minutes of basketball the Warriors have been in control of this series. But there was that one knockdown, that one mark on the scorecard that says this thing is tied heading out to Oakland. And however you want to look at it, San Antonio can’t be much worse. Even inside the confines of the Oracle madhouse, Golden State can’t possibly be any better.

The Spurs should hope not, because if this isn’t the best we’ve seen from the Warriors, San Antonio will be on an early vacation.


  • Graham

    Man, if we weren’t just so freakin ice cold from beyond the arc tonight……

  • http://www.facebook.com/trentwilloughby09 Forrest Trent Willoughby

    Yeah, it’s really pretty simple: the Warriors made a lot of shots from deep tonight and the Spurs didn’t. This series is all about the 3 ball.

  • assistman

    I sure hope you are right that they can’t be in any better at Oracle, but I don’t see why not. I just hope we are better. We need to be able to score a lot better ourselves though, that’s for sure.

    Last year, I was so glad that blowhard Marc Jackson was off the broadcasting team, but damn I didn’t expect this in year two.

  • PooPooDump

    Keep taking those 3’s, let Duncan get closer to the basket in the 2nd half, and pray that Jarret Jack’s awful decisions stop working out somehow. That’s about all the Spurs can do at this point, because it looks like the Curry/Klay/Barnes machine is just going to put up 50-60 regardless.

  • Nima K.

    If we can steal just one win at The Oracle arena, we can make it to the next round. Otherwise get ready for a Thunder-Warriors WCF. That would suck. Mais c’est la vie.

  • Nima K.

    And why did Pop play TS so little? Where is he saving him for? Next season?

  • PooPooDump

    Actually, a Thunder-Warriors WCF would be pretty exciting, but it would be sad for Spurs fans.

    Neither of those teams has a guy who can capably defend the other team’s star player. Curry vs. Durant for the craziest shooter crown.

  • Jason

    Correction. Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies.

  • Graham

    Splitter’s ankle was still swollen, probalbly was trying to limit his minutes to prevent him from tweaking it again. Having him on with Duncan out let us keep a rim protector out there at all times.

    I’m guessing he’ll get more burn as matchups dictate, but so far it seems our best lineup is playing Leonard at the 4

  • RG

    When Green missed those 3 good looks in a row… you just knew it wasn’t our night

  • DoubleDrivel

    Thoughts on Game One…

    http://youtu.be/6BsBuD9EexY

  • Len

    Spurs need to figure out the Parker situation because the Warriors are winning that battle.

    I still say to bring Tony off the bench and start Manu. Basically, whenever Jack is on the floor, Parker guards him. The rest of the time he guards Barnes.

    And Leonard needs to get more time initiating the offense. Remember the KaWow we all saw vs the Bulls when everyone was out? Ya, that’s the guy the Spurs need in the playoffs.

  • este

    Hey Pop, maybe Stephen Jackson was right.

  • ZeusVizzle

    Remember the Hornets!

  • Graham

    Parker was decent, and our offense is going to plummet without the threat of him out there. Manu……. just isnt consistent enough to carry the offense I think. A tough situation to think of a solution.

  • Graham

    About……? Jack isn’t going to help here. Hell, Diaw’s able to give us what Jack could have.

  • Graham

    Biggest positive is Duncan can have his way down low. We lost because our 2s couldn’t pace their 3’s. If our own can drop, and if we can hold the Splash Bros to 40% I think we can win with how it is now.

  • junierizzle

    Jack would have at least put Curry on his ass by now.

  • a

    man, Pop may regret letting Jackson go. He could really help!!!!!!

  • junierizzle

    First of all the Spurs came out like the Warriors were just going to lay down and before they knew it they were down eight and the climb started all over again. Sometimes the Spurs stick to their system to a f fault. Sometimes they just do what they do without intensity like Duncan said. You’d think after Klay hit his 3rd three they would crowd him but know. They continued to walk up to him and get lost and leave hum open. Spurs are famous for taking away what teams do best so it is mind boggling that they couldn’t stick with Thompson. Curry is an anomaly when he hits shots you just shake his hand. Thompson on the other hand is more of a spot up shooter. Yeah he can put it on the floor but he did his damage on spot up threes.

    I think the Spurs have to stop helping Parker. When they help the entire D falls apart. So what if Barnes posts him up. I’d rather give up 8 two pointers then 8 threes. And I guarantee if you give Barnes 7 post ups, he’s not going 7-7. Please Warriors by all means let your ROOKIE post us up all night. Same when Jack is in there, don’t help. Please Warriors by all means let your Back-Up guard take all the shots. It’s simple: Trade threes for twos. So what if we get taken off the dribble it’s only two points not three. Can you imagine if Klay’ s 8 threes were 8 layups because our guys were close enough to run him off? 16points not 24.I’d like our chances with that.

    Spurs and us need to stop thinking that these guys are going to go cold. We need to be on them like flies on shut your mouth. I’ve never seen shooting like this and we can’t continue to help them by not bothering them.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    How, exactly? Boris Diaw has quicker feet than Stephen Jackson at this point.

  • Andrew G

    This is our first loss in the playoffs… let’s all overreact and say we needed Stephen Jackson… LOL. Curry can get by Kawhi if there isn’t help, I don’t see ANY benefit to having a slower, mouthier Jackson.

    Losses happen, but so does Manu Ginobili. Have faith, and Pop shall reward.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    At the end of the games it’s going to be who wins the battle of hackaBogut vs. attackaParker. If the person TP is covering is scoring, they’re going to them until he stops them. When Jack finally missed, they didn’t go back to him. TP just needs to make a couple stops and he’ll be ok. Kinda crazy how a guy that fast just gets abused.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    I was surprised Pop didn’t pull him then, but then again what choice did he have? Green goes 4-12 and Neal goes 2-9? ouch.

  • este

    I saw Kawhi miss open looks that Stephen Jackson would have knocked down in his sleep. And I like Kawhi, it isn’t and either or situation they could both be there to help. Just remember every time Green or Leonard miss wide open looks especially in crunch time that those were the moments that Jackson relished.

  • Len

    Ya, it’s a clever move by Jackson to attack Tony relentlessly on offense. Spurs don’t have the versatility that the Warriors do so they can’t do it back to Curry. I can’t think of any other solution than to put Tony on Jack and dare them to iso Jack multiple times. Because the Spurs will take Jack pull up jumpers instead of Curry/Klay jumpers all game long. We’ll see how Pop chooses to handle it.

  • este

    In last year OKC series when the moment got too big for Green and a rookie Kawhi it was Jackson who stepped up and had the best games on the road in that series. He was nails and he lives for these kinds of challenges.

  • ZeusVizzle

    Any word on why Boris played so little?

  • este

    These problems have been an issue since the all-star break. The offense is stagnant relying too much on hero ball and inability to get stops at crucial times. One series against a wounded and not very good to begin with Lakers team did not resolve these issues.

  • TD BestEVER

    Ya we definitely need Capt. Jack now……and even if we get past this we will need him……..Memphis, OKC, and Miami all could use a dose of Jack……..We could play small with 2 SF’s like Golden State and still have some rebounding and defense in the game……..

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  • assistman

    We need to stop saying Kawhi at the 4 is our best lineup. I know you said “so far”, but we need the Spurs can’t think this way. It has only been our best lineup because just about every other lineup completely sucked in these games, but our best lineups, and our advantage, are when we go big. Tony’s probably gonna get torched, so what, we can abuse them in the paint, and win the rebound battle. That said, Jax should have given us a lot of value in exactly this kind of series, eh?

  • assistman

    I don’t know about “in his sleep” but I basically agree with you, though I mostly just try not to think about it. At the very least Jax at the 4 on Draymond Green, with KL at the 3 would be a nice option to have. And of course, Jackson’s competitive fire is something this group just misses. Pop’s arrogance… why not just suspend him and THREATEN waiving him for the playoffs (especially Jax likes his money) before you actually waive him outright? Because Pop wanted to make an example out of him.

  • td4life

    About… the fact that Danny Green can be a liability which costs the team wins. Green’s confidence comes and goes, Jackson’s doesn’t, and in playoff games like last night (and these coming road games) that matters.

  • td4life

    COMPLETELY AGREE. I hate it that everyone thinks Pop is Einstein.

    Btw, TD BestEVER, and this is more to the point (because Jackson isn’t on the team anymore)… When we can’t get any
    buckets, and are sacrificing D for an offense unit. Hack Bogut, and put
    Blair in there with Manu. Dejuan usually gets his. Last night that
    would have helped.

  • STIJL

    The whole story. Miss shots…lose games

  • TheFG21

    The scenario is not as bad as it looks. We Improve our quality of play in last night game. They won the first 2 quaters and we won the last two. We were disastrous throwing 5-22 from downtown. Had gotten four additional 3 point baskets, had we won by 3 points exactly. Only 4 more three pointer shots. Like most of you guys and girls (if any), I dont think we cant play worst than that.

    Bravados younger GS Warriors have made ​​all this effort to beat us, Splash Brothers have gone Supernova twice and we were only four 3pointer shots away from a victory.

    4.

  • TD BestEVER

    I absolutely agree about DJB…… say what you want about him but he usually makes SOMETHING HAPPEN when he plays…….Usually good lately but even if he screws up in 6-10 mins of play he won’t be any worse that the -10 +/- most of our bigs were putting up……… He can cover on the perimeter better than our other bigs because of his hands and can give us enough of a rebounding advantage to make up for out lack of shooting.

  • NYC

    You make a very persuasive argument.

  • NYC

    You are making an assumption that Jackson’s mindset dictates a physical outcome. He can have all the confidence in the world and still lay bricks. During this regular season, his 3 pt shooting was not good, yet that never dented his confidence. You are also assuming that last year’s performance is guaranteed to repeat. Andrew’s point was that this year Jackson seems to have lost a step or two to the point that Diaw is now quicker.

    When things aren’t going our way, it’s easy to fall into wishful thinking. Having Jax may or may not make a difference right now. You can’t really say for sure. I would prefer to focus on what we’ve got.

  • NYC

    In all honesty, TP has always been an average defender. I think we have to simply concede that whomever he is guarding will have a good offensive night and plan around that. I agree with the poster who said that we simply need to let Parker guard one-on-one. If he gets posted up by a bigger man, so be it. Better to concede 2 pts than 3 pts over and over again.

  • NYC

    Yes, let’s not panic. We are still the Spurs, and they are still Golden State. We have how many consecutive seasons of 50+ wins? We have how many banners? We did still win 58 games this season vs however many wins GS had. Duncan and Parker still got MVP considerations. Leonard is still very talented and getting better every day. Our bench is still to be reckoned with. Come on, guys, we are still the Spurs. Let’s not forget that.

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