By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
SAN ANTONIO — In their third game of a four-games-in-six-nights road trip, and after putting together back-to-back road wins, the Golden State Warriors faced the San Antonio Spurs, who, with eight straight wins, owned the longest active winning streak in the NBA.
After wins over potential playoff foes Houston and Oklahoma City , the Warriors’ intensity and defense were there for the duration against the Spurs, but their offense was a no-show, resulting in a 111-105 loss.
“Sometimes they just don’t go in,” said Warriors head coach coach Steve Kerr. “They’re the hottest team in the league… They out executed and out coached us.”
Golden State and San Antonio shot an identical 46.6 percent from the floor, but San Antonio shot 38.5 percent (10-for-26) to Golden State’s 33.3 percent (13-for-39) from 3-point range, with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry going a combined 14-for-43 from the field.
It was a slow start for both of the Splash Brothers; they were a combined 2-for-15 from the field after the opening period. Curry was the owner of both of those made field-goals, but didn’t even record his first points until after the shot clock turned off in the first quarter, by way of a driving and-one basket. Seconds later, he hit a buzzer-beating sixty-one foot 3-pointer — his longest field goal on the season.
“We didn’t make shots in the first half for us to build momentum,” said Curry, who finished the night with team-high 25-points. “Defensively, we had a couple breakdowns … tough game all the way around. We fought hard the whole time … They just made plays.”
Thompson finished with 14-points, but only because of his 11-point fourth-quarter performance. Thompson was held scoreless in the first half, and entering the final period, he was 1-for-11 shooting.
“I can’t go 1-for-8 and be out there being as effective as I should be,” Thompson said. “But, we still gave ourselves a chance to win. We have a good opportunity to go 3-1 tomorrow [against Minnesota] on a tough road trip, so it’s not the end of the world.”
After being sidelined with an ankle injury for over a week, Kevin Durant returned and scored 24 points with his normal, efficient 50-percent shooting (9-for-18) night, but defensively, he was out of whack and played the majority of the game with foul trouble.
“I think he (Durant) looked a little rusty,” said Kerr. “He had some good moments, but the foul trouble sometimes is an indication that you’re a little out of rhythm … all in all, it’s great to have him back.”
The Warriors were short-handed without DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle soreness) and Andre Igoudala (dental work recovery), so Kerr called upon newly-acquired Andrew Bogut, who was also their starting center during the 2015 NBA championship run.
Bogut ended up with seven points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes of play. He scored the Warriors’ first points of the game, and gave them their the first lead (13-12), via a two-handed dunk assisted/lobbed by Curry.
“Not good … we lost the game,” Bogut said, assessing his first NBA action in over a year. “Yeah, it was a tough one, we missed a lot of shots that we usually make and turned the ball over at crucial times, but for me personally, it was just good to be out there, obviously, and try to contribute. But, I would have liked to have left with a win.”
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Spurs with a near-triple-double, scoring 26-points, dishing out eight assists and pulling down nine rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge collected a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
With the loss, Golden State and the Denver Nuggets both sit at a 47-22, tied atop the Western Conference. The Warriors have the tiebreaker edge, having gone 2-1 against the Nuggets this season, making their final match-up of the season on April 4 that much more important.
“We’re still right there, its obtainable,” Curry said of the race for first place. “We’re tied with Denver, but there’s plenty of games left to wreak havoc and win games and take care of our business. A night like tonight is not going to derail us.”