When the San Antonio Spurs announced that they would sit Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and the injured Tony Parker for Thursday night's game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, knowledgable parties warned observers not to count out Gregg Popovich and his players. The Spurs have a history of playing well in games without their big-name players, including the infamous, fine-worthy November 2012 game against the Miami Heat.
Still, the Spurs managed to out-perform even those expectations. Led by former Warriors shooting guard Marco Belinelli (28 points on 10-of-16 shooting), budding star Kawhi Leonard (21 points and 10 rebounds), and point guard Patty Mills (20 points), San Antonio played Golden State even for 48 minutes and held the ball with the score tied at 102-102 with 28 seconds on the clock.
After a missed Belinelli jumper and failed putback attempt from Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter took advantage of the Warriors' unorganized rebounding efforts and finished what appeared to be an easy tip-in to give the Spurs a two-point lead with 2.1 seconds left. However, as the replays showed, Splitter arguably touched the ball while it was still within the cylinder. Take a look below:
Warriors coaches called for a replay review, but NBA rules curiously allow referees to check video only when goaltending or offensive interference has already been called, not in the event of a no-call. The decision may not have been overturned regardless — referees can disregard a player touching the ball in the cylinder if they determine that the ball did not have a chance to go through the hoop — but that will do little to console Warriors fans. San Antonio denied the Warriors a decent shot on the final possession and came away with the 104-102 win.
Regardless of the final result, this game proved once again that the Spurs are an obscenely well-coached team, a group that can lose its two offensive linchpins (and one pretty darn important player) and shoot 11-of-27 from three-point range for 104 points on the road. The Warriors didn't help themselves with 24 turnovers and uncharacteristically poor 8-of-31 shooting from deep, but it's not as if the Spurs had no hand in those stats. As ever, this team requires an opponent's full attention, no matter who's in the lineup.
(Video via The Point Forward)
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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL and "Like" BDL on Facebook for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.