Curry, Thompson lead well-rested Warriors past Spurs
At the beginning of the night, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the San Antonio Spurs a "measuring stick" for any team and the "gold standard" of basketball.
By the end, Kerr had plans to meet up with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich over a glass of wine — though his mentor didn’t seem to be in a chatty mood.
Not after what Kerr’s team just did.
Stephen Curry had 25 points and 11 assists, Klay Thompson scored 20 and the Warriors returned from the All-Star break to beat the Spurs 110-99 on Friday night.
"We probably won’t even talk about the game," Kerr said.
Popovich poked his head out of the visiting locker room after the game, mimed an interview for a few seconds as a couple of reporters waited and immediately walked inside. He did not take questions.
For at least one night, Curry and the Warriors seemed to have all the answers for Popovich and his players.
Curry controlled the game the way he so often has this season, burnishing his MVP credentials by leading Golden State to big runs at the end of the second and third quarters.
The Warriors went ahead by 21 points entering the fourth, and Popovich rested his regulars the final 12 minutes.
"They’re still a scary group," Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said. "You have to be locked in to play those guys."
Aron Baynes had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard scored 12 points for San Antonio, which lost 119-115 at the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night in its first game back.
The Spurs are in the middle of a season-long nine-game trip sandwiched around the break, going 2-3 so far. It was the lone home game for the Warriors during an 11-game stretch wrapped around All-Star weekend.
"We shot very poorly and they didn’t," San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili said. "We didn’t play that bad. They were just inspired and we couldn’t make shots."
Despite the travel and time away, neither team looked rusty.
The league-leading Warriors (43-9) and defending NBA champions Spurs (34-21) put on a back-and-forth show that featured a fast pace and beautiful ball movement. But the game wasn’t always clean — San Antonio had 16 turnovers, and Golden State had 12. And it wasn’t always calm, either.
Things intensified late in the second when Curry was called for reaching in, waving his arms and screaming madly after the whistle. Curry and Kerr received consecutive technical fouls for arguing with an official, whipping what had been a stagnant sellout crowd of 19,596 into a frenzy.
"For me, it was scary. I didn’t want to Steph to get his second T and get thrown out of the game," Warriors center Andrew Bogut quipped.
Instead, Curry erupted and the Warriors ended the half on a 21-11 run over the final five minutes. Curry connected from 3-point range and converted a behind-the-back, left-handed layup during the spurt, sticking his tongue out while running to the other end.
Golden State led 62-55 at intermission and scored the first seven points of the third quarter. Curry closed the quarter with another flurry, hitting a step-back 3 and finding Iguodala in the corner to put the Warriors up 89-68 heading to the fourth.
Popovich never played his Big Three — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili — in the fourth, and the final margin made the outcome seem closer than it really was.
It was a rare night that Golden State could celebrate a victory over the NBA’s model of consistency.
For nearly two decades, San Antonio has dominated the Warriors like no other team. The Spurs swept the series last season and had won 53 of the last 61 games against Golden State.
The Warriors came into the game with the best home record in the NBA at 23-2. One of those losses came to San Antonio, which beat the Warriors 113-100 on Nov. 11, despite Golden State shooting 54.3 percent from the floor. Chicago is the only other team to win at Oracle Arena this season.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
The Warriors wore their sleeved Chinese New Year jerseys with red shoes, while San Antonio wore its home whites. The Warriors said they’re the first team to ever wear uniforms commemorating the Chinese New Year.
Spurs: San Antonio fell to 10-6 on the second night of back-to-backs. … Reggie Williams, who signed a second 10-day contract earlier in the day, had seven points, two rebounds and two assists in 12 minutes.
Warriors: Thompson passed Jason Richardson (700) to move into second on the franchise’s career 3-point list. Curry is the franchise leader. … The team displayed Curry’s 3-point championship trophy on the arena’s main concourse for fans to take photos.
Spurs: At Utah on Monday.
Warriors: At Indiana on Sunday