For the second game in a row, the Warriors came up against a team resting its star players.
Steve Kerr joked that “no loads would be managed on our part” before the game, and it showed as the Warriors (38-15) whooped of the San Antonio Spurs (32-24), 141-102.
Stephen Curry said that the team needed to come out and handle the undermanned Spurs:
“In terms of putting together a solid 48 minutes, we did that. We made smart decisions, took good shots. This is probably the most balanced stat sheet in terms of how guys got their shots. Nice performance and obviously you want to take care of business with the situation how it was tonight.”
While on paper it looked like this would be the outcome from the start, it is impossible to count out the Spurs no matter what their roster looks like.
Popovich’s squads routinely punch above their weight, especially in games when they rest players.
It is also impossible to count on the Warriors when they get little to no motivation from the team across the court.
It had the classic indifferent Warriors trap-game written all over it — and that’s exactly what it was at the start with Marco Belinelli raining in 3’s.
But one big third-quarter run, when the talent gap was clearly evident, and the trap-game turned into blowout in a matter of minutes.
The Warriors put up 49 in the third, hitting 17 of their first 18 shots and setting a franchise record with 16 assists in one quarter.
Kerr complimented his team’s effort but was quick to point out the missing Spurs:
“Obviously it wasn’t a fair fight with their guys being out. In the first half, San Antonio was executing like crazy. That last two-minute stretch of the second quarter gave us some breathing room. And then I think just reality kind of set in, in terms of the talent disparity with their guys being out, we kind of wore them down.”
Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and Curry each scored 10, as a team, Golden State scored 19 fastbreak points, and the game was put completely out of reach. Thompson would finish with a team leading 26 on a crisp 11-of-13 shooting.
While Kevin Durant didn’t join the other All-Stars with an explosive third quarter, he started the game on fire. He hit his first six shots, including three 3’s, the first time he has hit multiple 3’s in a game since January 18, and would finish with 23 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
The Warriors also rode Cousins in a new-look lineup opening the second and fourth quarters. That was where Golden State began building momentum, with a vast majority of the buckets coming inside.
They force-fed Cousins down low, but not on isolation postups, instead with Cousins coming off low screens and getting it to him on the move and letting him attack that way.
He previously said that his iso posts aren’t comfortable yet and it has shown producing missed heavily contested shots.
But when he gets the ball on the move in the paint, that’s where he gets those easy looks. Those looks also get the career 74-percent free throw shooter to the line with ease.
He hit 9-of-13 from the charity stripe Wednesday, whereas the rest of the team were just a combined 6-of-8.
Kerr said Cousins is a totally different offensive player than the Warriors ever had:
“We’ve never really had this kind of weapon. We’ve obviously had a lot of great talent here over the last few years, but we’ve never had a guy who’s that powerful near the rim.”
Curry was actually the last Warriors player to score when he hit a 3 with two minutes left in the first half.
It’s the second game in a row Curry has had an unusually long dry spell with his shot after he went three full quarters before he hit a field goal against the Lakers.
But just like in that game he would explode after his first make and finish with 19 points.
It’s almost like these Warriors like this whole load management trend.
The Warriors will head out on the road for a single game in Phoenix, where they’ll take on Devin Booker and the Suns Friday.
The 49 points in the third quarter are the second highest scoring quarter this season, just behind the 51 points they scored against the Nuggets January 15. … Durant erupted on the court but also in his post game press conference when he laid into the media expressing his frustrations with the way they handled his upcoming free agency. He said:
“I don’t got nothing to do with the Knicks. I don’t know who traded (Kristaps) Porzingis, they got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. … I come in here and go to work everyday, I don’t cause no problems. I play the right way — I try to play the right way.”