Spurs spoil Du­rant’s War­riors de­but

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Janie Mccauley

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.

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