Tuesday’s NBA playoffs: Warriors trounce Spurs
Oakland, Calif. — Steve Kerr provided a strong message, just not from his usual spot on the bench: Play with urgency from the opening tip this time.
The Golden State Warriors did just that for their ailing coach watching from the locker room, and left Gregg Popovich questioning and criticizing his Spurs players for a lack of belief and feeling sorry for themselves without injured superstar Kawhi Leonard.
Stephen Curry had 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in three quarters and the Warriors trounced on the short-handed Spurs, running away from San Antonio for a 136-100 rout Tuesday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Kevin Durant added 16 points and Draymond Green (Michigan State) provided another impressive all-around performance with 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Rookie Patrick McCaw had 18 points and five assists off the bench shooting 6 for 8 as Golden State earned its second-most lopsided postseason victory ever to go to 10-0.
“That’s just been the message all year, just play with urgency and start the game off with some energy and throw the first punch,” Durant said. “Unlike Game 1 we did that tonight. We know they’re a little undermanned but they still play extremely hard, so we knew we couldn’t come out here and relax and think they were just going to give us the game. We had to go take it.”
The 36-point Warriors’ win is second to a 39-point victory for Philadelphia at St. Louis on April 6, 1948.
Jonathon Simmons scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half as the lone bright spot for the Spurs.
“It looked pretty collective to me. I don’t think it was one guy who didn’t believe and he infected everybody else or anything like that. As a group they just let themselves down,” Popovich said. “The truth always quote-un-quote sets you free. You can’t sugarcoat it or say ‘if we had just made a couple shots we’d have been right there. That’s pretty lame. So, call it like it is. We didn’t come to play. We felt sorry for ourselves. We need to get slapped and come back and play Game 3 and see who we are.”
Leonard re-injured his left ankle in Sunday’s 113-111 Game 1 loss after coming down on Zaza Pachulia’s foot. Popovich on Monday called out the Warriors starting center for the “dangerous” and “unsportsmanlike” closeout — which had Pachulia insisting he is not a dirty player, was only playing hard, and felt badly that the All-Star forward was injured.
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday in San Antonio.
Pachulia left the game injured for a Warriors team already without key reserve forward Andre Iguodala, held out because of soreness in his left knee that limited him to 10 minutes in Game 1.
An X-ray on Pachulia’s bruised right heel was clear but he was scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday.
Golden State quickly established its pass-happy, up-tempo style to take the Spurs out from the opening tip. It was a drastic difference from a game of catch-up two days earlier when the Warriors rallied from 25 down and a 20-point halftime deficit.
The bench contributed a season-best 63 points.
“They came out with a sense of urgency from the beginning and they played that way for 48 minutes,” acting Warriors coach Mike Brown said.
Klay Thompson, still struggling to find his steady shooting touch, had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Warriors had 39 assists — the most by any team this postseason — including 30 on their initial 38 baskets.
Shaun Livingston scored in double figures for the first time this postseason with 10 points for Golden State.
Simmons started in Leonard’s place and made 6 of 9 shots to begin the game while the rest of the Spurs were 3 for 22.
Popovich wasn’t about to guess whether Leonard would return in time for Saturday’s game, saying it could be Friday or even game day before that would be determined.
“I have no idea. Just depends on how the ankle heals,” Popovich said. “I’d probably list him as questionable. But the thing that worries me is that he did it again, the exact same thing. So one would logically think maybe it will take longer, but I’m hoping that’s not true and we’ll have him for Game 3. But I don’t know. I don’t think we’re going to know until Friday and Saturday, probably.”