Short-handed Spurs taken out by Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry made seven 3-pointers to finish with 35 points, leading the Golden State Warriors past the severely short-handed San Antonio Spurs 116-106 on Monday night.
Curry hit 7 of 13 shots from beyond the arc to move within one of Ray Allen’s single-season record of 269 3-pointers set in 2005-06 with Seattle. Curry added eight rebounds and five assists to help the Warriors pull away late and move a game ahead of Houston for the Western Conference’s sixth seed.
Gary Neal had 25 points and five assists and Patty Mills scored 23 points for the Spurs, who rested their key starters a night after losing 91-86 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers. San Antonio still had the Warriors on the brink until Curry took control.
After the Spurs tied the game at 84 early in the fourth quarter, Curry connected on three 3-pointers during a run that gave Golden State a 107-87 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining. The 32nd straight sellout crowd announced at 19,596 chanted “Curry! Curry! Curry!”
Warriors coach Mark Jackson took his starting point guard out with 3:51 remaining. Fans gave Curry a standing ovation, and they belted out another roar moments later when the video board showed the Rockets lost 119-112 at Phoenix.
Klay Thompson scored 23 points and David Lee added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who finish the regular season at Portland on Wednesday. Houston, which would hold the tiebreaker over the Warriors after winning the season series 3-1, will visit the Lakers it its finale Wednesday.
With Oklahoma City clinching the West’s top seed with a win over Sacramento earlier Monday night, the Spurs instead decided to focus on preparing for the playoffs.
San Antonio rested point guard Tony Parker (sore neck, left ankle), power forward Tim Duncan (sore left knee) and small forward Kawhi Leonard (sore left knee) sat out because of nagging injuries. All three had played at the Lakers on Sunday night.
The Spurs also were without reserve guard Manu Ginobili, who has been out since straining his right hamstring March 29. Backup forward Boris Diaw also is likely out until at least the second round of the playoffs following back surgery.
Whether Ginobili returns for the regular-season finale Wednesday against Minnesota is unclear. But Spurs coach Gregg Popovich left no doubt about the status of Parker, Duncan and Leonard for the Timberwolves game.
“Everybody will play on Wednesday because it’s not a back-to-back,” Popovich said. “What we’re doing tonight is what we do. We’ve done it all year. We’ve done it for 17 years.”
The Spurs will be seeded second and likely face Golden State or Houston in the first round.
Golden State was without center Andrew Bogut (sprained left ankle) and backup Andris Biedrins (lower back tightness). Bogut has missed two straight games since reinjuring his surgically repaired ankle. He has sat out 50 of 81 games this season, and his status for the playoffs is murky.
While adjusting to the odd lineups, neither side created much separation for more than three quarters.
Harrison Barnes had a driving two-handed dunk over Aron Baynes to give Golden State a 25-19 lead in the first quarter. Mills, who started in nearby Saint Mary’s College, capped a quick spurt with a 3-pointer that put San Antonio ahead 26-25.
There were 20 lead changes and six ties in the first half. The Spurs held a 57-54 lead at the break.
Curry connected on a pair of 3-pointers and a short jumper before Festus Ezeli’s dunk put the Warriors up 68-61 early in the third quarter, the largest lead for either side. The Spurs still closed the gap several times, tying the score early in the fourth quarter before Curry ignited Golden State for good.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for victims of the explosions during the Boston Marathon. … The Warriors had the second-highest total attendance in franchise history with 794,320 fans, second only to the 2007-08 season when the team drew 804,864 after making the playoffs the previous year. … San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer sat three seats away from Warriors owner Joe Lacob, and the two chatted several times between timeouts.