OAKLAND, Calif.--The San Antonio Spurs, so long a nightmare for the Golden State Warriors franchise, added a fresh dimension to the bad dream Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
With their star trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker sitting things out, the Spurs nonetheless outplayed the Warriors and then held them off down the stretch for a stunning 104-102 victory on Tiago Splitter's offensive tip-in with 2.1 seconds left.
With the score tied 102-all, the Spurs got the ball with 28.2 seconds left. Marco Belinelli missed a fadeaway, and Boris Diaw's offensive rebound put-back rolled off the rim. But Splitter was there to tap it in, and Stephen Curry's heavily defended desperation shot wasn't close.
It was a horrible loss for Warriors, who dropped to 14-13. If losing to a spurious aggregation of Spurs on its home floor wasn't bad enough, Golden State's most prominent tormentor was a former Warrior, Belinelli, who poured in 28 points to spearhead the San Antonio shocker.
With the Spurs playing their seventh game in 10 days and their second in two nights, coach Gregg Popovich elected to rest Duncan and Ginobili along with Parker, who was already scheduled to be out with a shin contusion.
But after a shaky start, the Spurs found their groove while the Warriors consistently couldn't find the handle. They committed 12 of their 24 turnovers in the first half, and San Antonio seized a 53-51 lead and expanded it to eight, 82-74, heading into the fourth quarter.
Behind Curry and power forward David Lee, the Warriors staged a furious rally and regained the lead at two junctures down the stretch. A Curry 3-pointer with 7:03 left provided a 91-89 lead, and Lee took a pass from Curry for an easy layup with 3:50 to go for a 97-96 edge.
But the scrappy Spurs backups wouldn't fold. They took a 102-99 lead into the final minute, Diaw scoring on a dunk with 47.6 seconds left for that advantage. But Curry answered with 27.2 seconds left, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key to set up the finish.
Lee had 32 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Warriors, and Curry scored 30 with 15 assists.
In both the first and second quarters, it appeared the Warriors were on the brink of staging a blowout. Early on, they jumped out 23-11, only to see the Spurs scramble back to within five.
Golden State opened a 14-point lead, 34-20, when Marreese Speights canned an 18-foot jumper with 8:54 to go in the first half. But with the help of a rash of Warriors turnovers, San Antonio went on a 19-4 run to take a 39-38 lead on a short jumper by Kawhi Leonard, who scored 16 first-half points.
It was back and forth for the rest of the first half, and San Antonio grabbed a two-point lead at intermission, 53-51, on a 3-pointer by Leonard from the corner with seven seconds left.
Although he didn't make the decision to rest Duncan and Ginobili until after the Spurs beat Phoenix on Wednesday night, Popovich said it was an easy call.
"I care about the end of the season, and we've been doing it for years," he said. "We've already held them out in back-to-backs here and there, and seven (games) in 10 days, for them, that's ridiculous.
"Having played three teams that run--the Clippers, Phoenix and Golden State tonight--a back-to-back, and we're going to get home at 4:30 (a.m.) " let's see, how smart do you have to be to rest a couple of guys that are older than dirt?"
Warriors coach Mark Jackson definitely didn't consider the game a walkover with the Spurs' stars out.
"They are still a dangerous team," he said. "They'll run their stuff, and their guys will be ready."
He didn't believe his team would be overconfident, either.
"They are fully aware of this team and how they go about their business," Jackson said. "Win, lose or draw, it will not be because they didn't have their guys and we let our guard down."
Some might debate that after this defeat.
--The Warriors notched their 50th consecutive sellout at Oracle, the longest sellout streak in 17 years.
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