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San Antonio Spurs still perfect at home after handling Golden State Warriors

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange   |   March 20, 2016 at 1:06 AM
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SAN ANTONIO -- In a game that featured smaller, quicker lineups, the biggest player on the floor made the difference in a statement victory for the San Antonio Spurs against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds, the San Antonio defense held Golden State to a season-low offensive output and the Spurs remained unbeaten at home with an 87-79 victory on Saturday night.

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San Antonio held Golden State scoreless for the final 2:33 while expanding a three-point lead to eight at the final horn. The Warriors missed their last seven shots from the floor.

The game featured teams with the best combined record (121-17) this late in the season in NBA history.

Golden State had handled San Antonio easily in the teams' first meeting, winning by 30 points, but the Spurs learned from that beating.

With Golden State center Andrew Bogut unavailable because of a toe injury, Aldridge took advantage and did the bulk of his damage in the paint.

It's the kind of impact that Aldridge was expected to provide after he was signed by the Spurs in the offseason.

"In the first game (against Golden State), they were playing small and I was trying to play too fast," Aldridge said. "Tonight, I took my time and tried to make my plays. We've played a lot more games going small and our guys are just more comfortable out there."

The Spurs (59-10) are 35-0 at the AT&T Center this season and have also won a franchise-best 44 straight regular-season games at home since a loss to Cleveland in March 2015.

San Antonio's streak is tied for the second longest in NBA history, matching Chicago's 44-game regular-season run in 1995-96 and trailing only the continuing streak by Golden State (50 games).

It's second in NBA history for the longest home winning streak to start a season (37, set by the Bulls in 1995-96).

Kawhi Leonard added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs. Boris Diaw scored 14 points and Danny Green had 10.

The Spurs, who have won six straight games, are 21-3 since losing to the Warriors in Oakland on Jan. 25.

"The guys' execution and their competitiveness defensively was outstanding and that's something you can depend on night after night," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "This was one of our guys' better execution games in following what we were trying to do.""

Golden State (62-7), which had its seven-game win streak snapped, was led by Klay Thompson's 15 points. Stephen Curry had 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting from the field (1 of 12 on 3-pointers). Draymond Green added 11 points and Brandon Rush had 10.

It was Golden State's 33rd consecutive regular-season loss in San Antonio, a skid that started Feb. 14, 1997, when 39-year-old Tim Duncan was a rookie with the Spurs.

The Warriors' previous low for points this season was 89 against Cleveland on Christmas night.

"Defensively, we played well enough to win, but on offense we got a little rushed and that started with me," Curry said. "We forced things a little bit, and it's a frustrating feeling to bring the effort that we needed to win and just not playing smart enough to win. We would have liked a couple more shots to fall -- we missed shots that we normally make."

The Spurs started with a smaller than normal lineup, inserting Diaw in place of Duncan at center and the strategy worked, with Diaw scoring six of San Antonio's first eight points.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was into the game early and was whistled for a technical foul in the first quarter for arguing when Golden State's Marresse Speights was called for an offensive foul. Kerr had to be physically restrained by his assistant coaches.

San Antonio led by as much as 11 points in the second quarter until Golden State reeled off the final five points of the half -- three of them on free throws by Curry -- and cut its deficit to 43-37 at halftime.

The 37-point first half was a season low for Golden State (previously 42 against Dallas in a 114-91 loss on Dec. 30).

Curry hit his first 3-pointer of the game on his eighth attempt with a 35-foot rainbow over Aldridge midway through the third quarter that brought the Warriors even at 55. But the Spurs were undaunted, scoring the next five points on a 3-pointer by Tony Parker and two free throws by Aldridge.

Curry's two free throws with 59.6 seconds left in the quarter tied the score again at 65, setting the table for a furious fourth quarter.

It was the first time this season that the Warriors lost a game in which they were tied or led in the fourth quarter.

"It felt like a playoff game -- every possession was a scrum," Kerr said. "The game was right there for us and we just couldn't quite get over the hump. The Spurs played great -- they deserve to win, they outplayed us."

NOTES: The Spurs are 57-11 record against the Warriors since F/C Tim Duncan's rookie season in 1997-98. ... San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich served as an assistant for Golden State on Don Nelson's staff in the 1992-93 and 1994-95 seasons. ... Warriors coach Steve Kerr had two playing stints with San Antonio, including the 2002-03 season, when helped lead the Spurs to their second NBA championship. ... With its 130-112 win over Dallas on Friday night, Golden State became the 14th team in NBA history to win at least 30 road games in a season. The Warriors are 30-7 away from home after falling to the Spurs. ... The Warriors dished out 35 assists in that victory, their league-best 36th game with at least 30 assists.

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