Duncan leads Spurs past Warriors
Duncan had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and San Antonio won for just the third time away from home this season, beating the Golden State Warriors 103-91 on Wednesday night.
“We’re not playing well at all anywhere, whether it be on the road or at home,” Duncan said. “We just haven’t been playing good basketball. We’re trying to turn that corner and learn from our mistakes and be better about it.”
San Antonio had lost six of its first eight games away from the AT&T Center before shutting down Golden State in the second half.
“Our defense in the second half is what fueled us to get the win,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who needs one victory to become the 17th coach in NBA history to reach 700 wins. “That was the difference in the game. We changed our pick-and-roll defense and it worked pretty well.”
Monta Ellis(notes) scored 35 points and Corey Maggette(notes) added 21 for injury-riddled Golden State, which played without its top three centers in coach Don Nelson’s return to the bench. The Warriors have lost four straight and 10 of 12.
“We can’t make excuses for ourselves,” Ellis said. “We did everything we could possibly do, but we didn’t hit enough shots.”
Nelson felt Golden State suffered mental lapses while trying to adjust to his play-calling.
“I’ve been gone for some time (and) I think my play-calling is a bit different,” he said. “I expect them to know the play calls and be where they’re supposed to be, and that didn’t happen sometimes. I don’t think we were mentally sharp at times.”
Popovich felt the same way about his team in the first half.
Duncan had only seven points by halftime, when the Spurs were content shooting from the perimeter rather than working the ball down low to their perennial All-Star forward.
That changed in the third quarter, when Duncan scored 14 points despite the Warriors double-teaming him in the paint. At one point Duncan scored on a spin move past Vladimir Radmanovic(notes), then made a short layup over Anthony Randolph(notes) the next time down the court.
Duncan later scored five straight points to give the Spurs a 14-point lead in the third.
After Golden State pulled within 93-86 late in the fourth quarter, Duncan scored on back-to-back possessions—including a dunk over Randolph—to put San Antonio comfortably ahead.
That was in sharp contrast to Tuesday, when the Spurs fell behind early to Phoenix and never caught up, scoring only 20 points in the fourth quarter of a 114-106 loss.
“It’s always a step in the right direction but you can’t say we turned the corner yet until we start beating some of the elite teams,” Duncan said. “It’s a very good win against a young team that really brings a different type of game to the floor.”
The Warriors, who were already without starting center Andris Biedrins(notes) (lower back strain) and backup Ronny Turiaf(notes) (left knee), learned before the game that Mikki Moore(notes) will be out indefinitely after opting to have surgery to remove bone spurs in his right heel.
That left Golden State with just nine players in uniform and a coach still recovering from pneumonia. Don Nelson did not accompany the Warriors on their most recent road trip but was back on the bench against the Spurs.
“All better, 100 percent,” Nelson said. “A couple of days into the road trip I started feeling better, but it was good that I took the extra time (off).”
Ellis, however, kept Golden State close in the first half until Duncan took over in the third quarter.
San Antonio led by nine early in the second quarter, but Ellis scored 11 points during an 18-4 run that gave Golden State a 45-40 lead. The Spurs stopped the slide briefly but Maggette and C.J. Watson(notes) both scored in the final 75 seconds to help the Warriors take a 49-47 lead into halftime.
NOTES: The Spurs improved to 40-7 against the Warriors since drafting Duncan in 1997. … Ellis has scored 30 or more points in seven of his last 14 games. … Radmanovic was 0-for-8 from the field.