Down 25 Points in 1st Half, Warriors Come Back To Beat Spurs in Game 1

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors overcame a 25-point deficit in the first half to come back to beat the San Antonio Spurs 113-111 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

Stephen Curry had 40 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals for the Warriors, who are now 9-0 in the NBA playoffs. Curry also had 19 points in the third quarter to lead his to an impressive comeback.

“It could have gone either way. Being down 25 points or whatever we were down,” said Warriors acting coach Mike Brown, who is 7-0 since filling in for head coach Steve Kerr. “I give our guys a ton of credit. They stayed composed. Not one point in the game did our guys hang their head or not believe.”

Kevin Durant had 34 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four blocked shots in just over 38 minutes for Golden State. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. The Warriors biggest run in the second half was an 18-0 spurt.

“It’s the playoff. You’ve got to expect everything,” Curry said. “Obviously, we wouldn’t call it smooth sailing at all. They came out and challenged us heavy and put a nice run together. Took us a minute to figure it out to get up to that game speed after this little break.”

The Warriors haven’t played since May 8 when they swept the Utah Jazz 4-0. In that regard, the rust was quite prevalent and the Spurs took an advantage of it, too.

The Warriors uncharacteristically turned the ball over six times in the first quarter while the Spurs made 13-of-21 shots to end the first quarter with a 30-16 lead. Spurs also had three blocked shots in the first 12 minutes.

San Antonio increased its margin by 25 points in the second quarter before the Warriors went on an 11-2 run capped off by a 3-point shot by Curry to make the score 46-32. The Spurs gathered themselves to lead 62-42 at the half.

Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 35 points in the first half. The Warriors turned the basketball over 10 times in the first half, giving the Spurs seven steals off of poor ball handling.

Mike Brown was asked if the series would come down to a big-man game, and in the first half, the Spurs’ post players made a solid difference in Game 1.

“It’s going to be a physical series,” Brown said. “It’s going to be hard fought. We told our guys the biggest asset that the Spurs have is they play hard for as close to 48 minutes as anybody.”

The Warriors bounced back in a major way in the third quarter and cut the Spurs lead 78-73 dunk by Durant with 4:27 remaining. The Spurs hung on to end the quarter with a 90-81 lead. Curry had the hot hand in the third quarter. He had 19 points and made four 3-point shots.

The Warriors’ mastered their comeback with a 20-10 run that have them a 101-100 lead on a basket by Durant with 4:05 remaining in the game. The Spurs came back to take the lead on a basket by Aldridge to make the score 104-103.

Simmons made two free throws later for the Spurs, but Curry tied the game at 106-106 with a trey and Green made a driving layup for the lead.

With 38.9 seconds left, the Warriors were up 111-106, but Manu Ginobili got a dunk, and Patty Mills stole the ball from Thompson and made two free throws after Thompson fouled him.

Curry made a 13-foot floater with less than 10 seconds before Aldridge missed a 3-point shot attempt that sealed the victory.

Leonard, who missed the last game against the Houston Rockets, had to leave the game in the third quarter due to a nagging, sprained left ankle. He finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. He also made all 11 attempts from the free throw line.

“It was huge. We need Kawhi to create and to score,” said Manu Ginobili, who had 17 points off the bench for the Spurs. “When he went down, the Warriors were starting to pick it up and feel good about themselves. That’s when we struggled.”

Aldridge finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, and three steals for the Spurs (0-1). Jonathon Simmons had 12 points. Zaza Pachulia had 11 points, nine rebounds, and three assists for the Warriors. It was also mentioned that Pachulia stepped on Leonard’s ankle, which put him on ice.

“We had a good offensive rhythm going with (Leonard) and myself,” Aldridge said. “Guys were playing off him and getting easy looks. He’s our go-to guy on our team. So, it was tough.”

Durant said Leonard’s re-aggravated injury by Pachulia was not by force.

“ZaZa is not a dirty player,” Durant said. “You’ve got to time that perfectly if you want to hurt somebody. We’re not that type of team. We’re just trying to contest a shot.”

Steven Kerr was also in the building to view the game at The Oracle.

“It’s always great to hear Coach Kerr’s voice and give his perspective,” Curry said.
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OBSERVER Staff Writer
Antonio R. Harvey