A sluggish start seems like ancient history as the San Antonio Spurs look more and more like defending champions, beating the turnover prone Golden State Warriors 113-100 behind a strong game from Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, while Stephen Curry did more harm than good in another rough performance for him.
Parker led the Spurs, who are now at 4-3 and above .500 again despite dealing with some injuries early on, with 28 points and 7 assists, including a very strong finish to keep the Warriors from coming back. Kawhi Leonard had two solid games back to back for the first time this season, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds on 7-of-11 from the field while Manu Ginobili helped out with 17 points off the bench. Tim Duncan had himself another double double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. In six games this season he has five of them, missing out on a perfect six-for-six by one rebound. He is now only eight points away from making it to 25,000 career points.
It’s not often a team shoots 54.3% from the field and ends up losing, but the Warriors had themselves a turnover-fest for a second straight game, making costly mistakes with the ball, something that doesn’t go away. It wasn’t all on Stephen Curry this time, who turned the ball over three times, but a lot of his shots were almost like a turnover, missing all of his seven 3-point attempts, ending a streak of 75 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer.
Curry scored just 16 points, taking a slew of bad shots, as it was more than just an off shooting night for someone who is usually referred to as the best shooter in the league. Klay Thompson was back from injury, leading his team with 29 points. Harrison Barnes was excellent with 22 points and 8 rebounds. However, the defense with Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut in the middle didn’t hold up, while crucial contributors off the bench like Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa each scored just four points.
After winning their first five games, the Warriors look normal again. They’ve lost two in a row, and now no longer look like the best team in the NBA, which was a temporary title anyway. They are missing David Lee who for all of his faults adds some things offensively Draymond Green simply can’t make up for, although that might not have been the thing that was missing in the home loss to the Spurs.
As for San Antonio, mulling too much about a slow start was futile. If there’s any team that’s more about the long run than anyone else it’s them. Injuries, rotations, resting. The Spurs view every season as a whole new thing, unconnected to anything that’s happened in the past, even if it’s winning an NBA champions. Maybe Popovich being able to make his players make that separation and fresh start each time is the true secret to their longevity and success.