Spurs spoil Durant’s Warriors debut
Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs put on such a basketball show they sent the loyal Golden State fans to a rare early exit. What a strange sight at Oracle Arena for opening night and Kevin Durant’s long-awaited Warriors debut.
Leonard scored a career-high 35 points and the Spurs emphatically spoiled KD’s first game for Golden State in a 129-100 rout Tuesday that the Warriors could hardly believe had just happened.
“We got punched in the mouth,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t know if it was quite a bad thing for us.”
Durant had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but little looked in sync for MVP Stephen Curry and the reigning Western Conference champions in a forgettable first game — and quite a different one after the Warriors dominated at home and came out of the blocks last season with a record 24-0 start.
Leonard scored 31 points by the end of the third, LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and 14 rebounds and Gregg Popovich thoroughly outdid a couple of his close friends on the opposite bench in reigning NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr and top assistant Mike Brown.
Yes, San Antonio sent quite a message to the West.
“If there was an outcome I wasn’t expecting, it was this one,” San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili said. “A 29-point lead against a team like them? I truly didn’t expect it.”
Curry, last season’s first unanimous MVP, scored 26 points but was just 3 for 10 from 3-point range. Green had 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Klay Thompson was limited to 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
The star-studded Warriors were sloppy, committing 16 turnovers, and got outrebounded 55-35. They are clearly still finding themselves just as Kerr expected — though maybe not quite like this while.
“No, I didn’t see losing by 29 points,” Kerr said. “It’s going to be an ugly tape to watch . ... I think our guys were embarrassed tonight. I know I was.”
San Antonio exhibited smooth, crisp ball movement and looked polished in a game that had a playoff feel on Day 1.
Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Leonard shot 10 for 21 and made all 15 of his free throws.
Jonathon Simmons came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points, including a 3 to beat the halftime buzzer for a 64-46 advantage. His status had been
in doubt for the opener because of a calf injury.
Green dunked off a pass from Curry early in the third to get Golden State within 10, only to pound his chest and yell before being hit with a technical.
The Warriors had flurries of greatness trying to get back in it. San Antonio answered each time — like when Golden State pulled within 50-42 in the second quarter before the Spurs closed the half on a 14-4 run.
“It’s a nice little slap in the face,” Curry said. “First game you want to come out and protect your home court and have the energy of the home opener live throughout the game. We didn’t do anything to let that happen.”
Durant made a 14-footer 65 seconds into the game and hit his first four shots. But he didn’t have much help early.
San Antonio led 31-20 after the first, when the Warriors shot 7 for 20 with four baskets by Durant. Golden State’s other players were 3 for 15, and the Warriors got outrebounded 17-9.