SAN ANTONIO – The Ghost of South Texas lives on, still haunting the Warriors, but it’s no longer the imposing force it once was.
Though the Warriors failed to get what they wanted Saturday night in South Texas, taking a 87-79 loss to the Spurs, they surely got what they needed.
Even in losing here for the 33rd consecutive time in the regular season, the Warriors experienced enough to know they can and will win here, even if they haven’t.
They also walked out of AT&T Center with every reason to believe the Spurs cannot beat them four times in a postseason series.
“We’re down three guys that play huge minutes for us,” Klay Thompson said, referring to the injury-related absences of Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. “Coming in here off a back-to-back and not making shots, not having our legs like we want but still getting good looks and trusting our offense.
“We’ll live with this. It’s not the result we wanted, but we see these guys two more times and we know what we have to do to be successful: Play the same formula, battle on the glass, battle on the defensive end, move the ball and use our speed. I know we’ll be alright.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Spurs bottle up Curry, hand Warriors 7th loss]
The Warriors lost this game with their offense, which never found any real rhythm. They shot 37.8 percent, partly due to San Antonio wisely making it a priority to defend the 3-point line but also because open looks, whether up close or out deep, came up dry far more than is typical.
“We just got a little rushed and that started with me,” said Steph Curry, who finished with 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting (1-of-12 beyond the arc). “Not getting a feel for the game and forcing it a little bit. There’s no panic at all. Just a frustrating feeling to bring the effort we needed to win, but just not executing and playing smart enough – starting with me.”
Curry finished a completely uncharacteristic minus-10 for the game. Thompson scored a team-high 15 points and finished minus-6. Draymond Green’s minus-1 was best among the starters, and only reserves Marreese Speights (plus-9), Leandro Barbosa (plus-8) and Shaun Livingston (plus-2) were in the plus column.
The Warriors (62-7) were playing the second half of a back-to-back road set, having won Friday night at Dallas. The game was played at the slower pace preferred by the Spurs (59-10), as the Warriors managed only 11 fast-break points.
“We got good shots,” Green said. “We just couldn’t hit a lot of the shots we usually hit. When that happens, especially against a team like that, on the road, it’s tough to win.
“The pace definitely played into their hands. But even when we did get out on the break, we didn’t convert opportunities that we usually convert. We had some fast break opportunities that usually end up with a 3, or at least a 2, that we just couldn’t convert.”
The Spurs entered the evening 34-0 at home. They last played Thursday night, on their court. They’d lost to the Warriors by 30 back on Jan. 25 in Oakland. Under these circumstances, this was, for the Spurs, a time to assert themselves.
And, still, the Warriors were down one (78-77) with four minutes to play.
“I’m not disappointed,” coach Steve Kerr told CSNBayArea.com. “I’m pleased with our effort, thrilled with our effort and our fight and our competitive desire.
“We made a few mistakes, but that’s going to happen. We can clean some of that stuff up. But on the road, ninth game in 14 days, we played last night, they were waiting for us . . . I’m pleased with the effort. Not pleased with the outcome but not disappointed at all.”
Nor should he be. Kerr watched his team win a game without its “A” game or its “B” game or even its “C” game on offense. The Spurs, as quality teams tend to do, took exploited an opportunity.
“They had a better game than last game,” Green said, “which shouldn’t have been that hard.”
The Spurs expressed more relief than satisfaction. The Warriors expressed unwavering confidence in defeat, as it should be, for they discovered the days and nights of being bullied by the Spurs in San Antonio are over.
The history continues, but it no longer carries any weight at all.