It had all the makings of a trap game.
What should have been re-match of last year’s Western Conference Semifinals between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs instead became a game between the Warriors and the Spurs’ bench, as Gregg Popovich elected to sit Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili along with the injured Tony Parker.
And what should have happened was a solid Warriors’ win over the shorthanded Spurs. Instead, it was the shorthanded Spurs (21-5) surprising and embarrassing the Warriors (14-13) in front of their home crowd, defeating them 104-102 at Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
It came down to the final possession. After a Stephen Curry game-tying three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining, the Spurs scored on a tip-in by Tiago Splitter in the dying seconds that would prove to be the winning bucket. Marco Belinelli had missed the original shot, but the Warriors could not secure the rebound underneath. Boris Diaw scooped up the ball and missed a lay-up, but Splitter was right there to tap it in. It should have been called offensive goaltending, but considering how the Warriors played, they didn’t deserve such a break.
Early on, it seemed like the Warriors would blow out the Spurs, jumping out to a 23-11 lead in the first quarter, as David Lee caught on fire. They pushed the lead to 14 at one point in the second quarter, but the Spurs went on a 20-6 run to take the lead. Kawhi Leonard scored 15 in the second quarter alone as the Spurs took a 53-51 into halftime.
The third quarter was the Marco Belinelli show. He had 14 points in the quarter and carried the Spurs to an 82-74 lead heading into the fourth, and would hang on despite a Warriors’ rally.
Tale of the Tape
- Field Goals: 46.7% (42-90)
- 3-Pointers: 25.8% (8-31)
- Rebounds: 47
- Assists: 26
- Turnovers: 24
- Field Goals: 44.9% (40-89)
- 3-Pointers: 40.7% (11-27)
- Rebounds: 39
- Assists: 21
- Turnovers: 19
Turnovers have been a recurring issue for the Warriors this season, and it reared its ugly head once again tonight. It’s hard to win a game allowing 31 points off 24 turnovers.
In the understatement of the night, head coach Mark Jackson told Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group that the turnovers are “hurting us. It’s hurting is bad.”
Thompson, Barnes Struggle
Klay Thompson has yet to snap out of his funk, scoring 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting, making just one of his seven three-point attempts. Harrison Barnes didn’t do any better, not managing a single point and turning the ball over three times in 19 minutes.
Curry, Lee Shine
On a positive note, Stephen Curry had himself quite a night with 30 points and 15 assists. He almost single-handedly kept the Warriors in the game late, and made the game-tying three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining.
David Lee also had a big game, and has been playing much better as of late. He finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds.
There really was no excuse for the Warriors to lose this game. They had most of their key players (minus Jermaine O’Neal) on the court, and were facing a group of bench players who have probably never played this many minutes before. If the Warriors truly consider themselves a championship-contending basketball team, these are the types of games they absolutely need to win.
But they didn’t. Whether it was turnovers, struggling from behind-the-arc, poor defense, or just lackadaisical play, the Warriors squandered an opportunity to claim an easy victory.
It is not time to push the panic button quite yet, but come March as the season winds down, all these bad losses will pile up and could potentially hurt the Warriors.
Tweet of the Night
Poppovich was totally fine with giving GSW the win tonight and the Warriors basically said, “Nahhhh, we’re good.”
— Benjamin Cruz (@cruzkontrol) December 20, 2013
What’s on Tap
The Warriors will take on the Kobe-less Lakers on Saturday night at home. This has the makings of yet another trap game, and fans can only hope they will take their opponent seriously this time.