Warriors share wealth in badly needed road win vs. Spurs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN ANTONIO -- As the final seconds ticked off the clock Friday night in the third quarter of the Warriors' dominant 144-113 win over the San Antonio Spurs, Jordan Poole dribbled at the top of the 3-point line. It looked like Poole was calling for his teammates to clear the way for him to either drive or pull up for a jump shot. Instead, with the defense collapsing on him, Poole hit Anthony Lamb on the left wing right in the chest for a perfect pass.
Swish. Lamb drained the 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left to give the Warriors a 25-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
"Yeah, Jordan!" Steve Kerr could be heard yelling from the Warriors' sidelines. He then turned to the bench smiling, made a passing motion and said, "Yes! Yes!"
Poole's decision seems like a simple and easy one. However, he has tried to take the game into his own hands with a dribbling display at the end of quarters, or the end of games, and the results haven't always been pretty. This time, he gave it up and the result was three more points for the Warriors.
That right there told the story of the Warriors' performance as a whole in front of a record-setting attendance of 68,323 fans. Poole's assist was Golden State's 30th on the night through three quarters, a mark Kerr looks to have for an entire game.
"Our whole game is about ball movement and sharing the ball, throwing it ahead," Kerr said after the Warriors' 31-point win. "We're constantly trying to get our guys to understand the importance of ball movement, running to the corners in transition to give us space, so I liked that particular play.
"Ball movement leads to a lot of people being happy, and if they're happy, they're gonna play better defense. And they're gonna rebound and the locker room's more fun. So I think passing leads to a lot of that."
The ball was popping all over the court in San Antonio, and everybody was involved in a win the players never will forget. There's no exaggeration there, too.
The Warriors had 10 players available and all 10 scored. From top to bottom with contributions up and down the roster, the Warriors got back to .500 with a 21-21 record. Poole led all scorers with 25 points, followed by a season-high 22 points from Donte DiVincenzo. Both of them came off the bench.
Overall, the Warriors' bench scored a season-high 77 points. Eight of the Warriors' 10 players finished in double figures, tying the most for a game in Kerr's coaching career. All eight also scored at least 12 points, which is the second time in NBA history a team has done so.
"Very big," Draymond Green said when asked about the importance of sharing the wealth. "It's good to start this road trip with a win but also, you know, to get everybody feeling good and confident.
"It's great for us to start a road trip this way."
Friday night's win and near-flawless display, aside from the Warriors' 26 fouls, were exactly what they needed. The Warriors were coming off three straight losses to end an eight-game home stand. Those losses also were to the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and a Phoenix Suns team without six of their top players.
All season long, the Warriors have struggled to take advantage of teams they should blow out on paper. There was no messing around this time. Steph Curry recognized at Thursday's practice the Warriors need to embrace the embarrassment of having a 3-16 road record, which now is 4-16. Playing the extremely young Spurs who have a historically bad defense helps, but the Warriors never let them even sniff a chance of a win.
They led by as much as 39 points and trailed only once. That was 30 seconds into the game, when two Jakob Poeltl free throws made it a 2-1 game. The Warriors never looked back after that.
Their win was so convincing that Curry and Klay Thompson only played 23 minutes. Each sat the entire fourth quarter. Doing so should help the Warriors mightily on a road trip that features five games in eight days, including a pair of back-to-backs.
"I think just the spirit and energy in a locker room postgame is something that we needed to go into this road trip, DiVincenzo said. "We have a good team in Chicago next. We got back to back-to-backs this road trip. So I think the spirit and energy in the locker room postgame is something that we can build off of.
"The game was great, but we needed to be in the right mental space to go onto this tough road trip. I think we're heading in the right direction."
The Warriors landed in Chicago at 3 a.m. ET Saturday morning. They face a Bulls team Sunday that has lost three straight before playing the Washington Wizards, losers in four of their last five games, on Monday. Those two games will be key prior to a tough back-to-back against the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire NBA.
Maybe it was one game, maybe it was the start of something bigger. The Warriors' minds, energy and spirit were right where they needed to be in San Antonio, giving them the kind of showcase win the defending champions badly needed.