Thursday’s NBA playoffs: Warriors beat mourning Spurs
San Antonio – Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Golden State Warriors beat San Antonio 110-97 on Thursday night for a 3-0 series lead over the Spurs, who were still reeling from the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin.
Golden State can close the first-round series with a win Sunday afternoon in San Antonio in Game 4.
The Spurs were playing a day after the death of Erin Popovich, who passed away after battling an undisclosed long-term illness. Erin and Gregg Popovich were married four decades and had two children and two grandchildren.
San Antonio did not air a video tribute or hold a moment of silence for Erin in an apparent attempt to make the game as routine as possible for its players, but that was impossible.
Coach Popovich was not in his customary position roaming the sidelines, choosing instead to be with his family. San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina coached the team in Popovich’s place.
“We are all hurting,” Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili said after the morning shootaround. “We want to be next to Pop, we want to support him, but we’ve got to go out there and compete today. But, for sure, we are toiling. It’s not an easy day to be here.”
Ginobili and fellow veteran Tony Parker said it was tough to play basketball following Erin’s passing, but the team’s goal was to compete and play with the grit Popovich has always demanded of them.
Parker, who said Erin and Gregg were a mother and father to him when he entered the league as a 19-year-old, lived up to those wishes. Parker, who averaged 2.0 points in the first two games, finished with 16 points in 17 minutes.
LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 18 points.
The Spurs had an emotional start, but could not sustain it against the talented Warriors.
Already on the edge of their seats for the first home game of the playoffs, fans erupted when Rudy Gay threw down a one-handed dunk over Golden State’s JaVale McGee. The cheering was nearly constant as the Spurs scored the game’s first six points before the Warriors began to settle in.
Durant and Klay Thompson shot down San Antonio’s chances.
Thompson added 19 points, including 3-for-6 shooting on 3s.
Golden State closed the first half on a 20-9 run to eliminate a five-point deficit and take a 52-46 lead. Durant had 17 points in the first half to counter 10 points each from Gay and Parker.
The Warriors led by double figures despite opening 1 for 14 on 3-pointers. Golden State finished 10 for 32 on 3s.
Shaun Livingston added 16 points for Golden State, who had six players in double figures.
MORE WESTERN CONFERENCE
(At) New Orleans 119, Portland 102: Nikola Mirotic scored a career playoff-best 30 points to go with eight rebounds, three steals and a block, and New Orleans took a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series. Anthony Davis had 28 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks for New Orleans, which can advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008 with one more victory.
The 6-foot-10 Mirotic, acquired in a midseason trade after DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tear, made 12 of 15 shots, scoring on everything from quick-release 3-pointers to cutting dunks and fast-break layups.
Damian Lillard scored 20 for Portland, but also missed nine of 14 shots. CJ McCollum scored 22 and Al-Farouq Aminu added 21, but Portland trailed by double digits for most of the first half and all of the second.
Game 4 is Saturday.
Philadelphia 128, (at) Miami 108: A masked Joel Embiid scored 23 points in his postseason debut, Marco Belinelli and Dario Saric each added 21 and Philadelphia beat Miami to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Ben Simmons finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the 76ers, who won for the 18th time in their last 19 games and reclaimed home-court advantage. Embiid went on a personal 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to help Philadelphia extend its lead to 14, and send many in the crowd to the exits.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points for Miami, which got 19 from Justise Winslow and 14 from Josh Richardson.
Game 4 is Saturday afternoon.