Curry: 'We've been here before, but we know how to come back'
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs just beat Golden State for the 30th time in a row, and this one was far more agonizing than the first 29 strung together in a tape loop from hell itself.
Even if it wasn’t a playoff loss. Even if it wasn’t a double overtime loss. Even if it was because Manu Ginobili made a 26-foot three-pointer that he’d missed 40 seconds earlier. Even with the Spurs at about 80 percent strength, and the Warriors blowing a 16-point lead in the final 4:31 of regulation.
But when the Warriors put those things and a couple of dozen others together, they get a taste of bile that Listerine doesn’t even begin to dent. This game was theirs, except that in this building, it never is.
It was, at best, an education for them. It was, at worst, a dagger they cannot heal.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Warriors blow Game 1 in San Antonio]
On a night when none of San Antonio’s Big 3 – Tim (Stomach Flu) Duncan, Tony Parker or Ginobili – were at their best, they were just enough, just enough times. Especially Ginobili, who limped in with a hideous 5-for-20 that was erased only because the fifth field goal in the 20th try was an open look (well, Kent Bazemore was closest, if that helps) from ridiculously far away with 1.2 seconds left.
It’s the kind of shot that he should have missed given the game he played. It’s definitely the kind of shot that Stephen Curry turned into gold in his usual absurd third quarter.
But it’s Warriors at Spurs, and that’s just the way it goes.
That is, if this series ends quickly, that will be the theme. If the Warriors rally as they did in Game 2 of the Denver series, it will be proof that they can grow on a run as well as any young team in recent NBA history.
But the weight gets heavier every time, and this one was a wall safe from the 30th floor of a bank building. This was one that kills even Warner Brothers cartoon characters.
So now we see if the Warriors are more resilient than cartoons.
On the up side, Curry reinforced his national profile as the greatest third quarter player in the history of the game. His 44 points and 11 assists simply put another coat of “Damn he’s good” on the coats of “He’s unbelievable” he has already applied to his national profile.
On the down side, when he cooled, the Warriors held serve until the fatal Four And A Half, when they reverted to the young, impetuous and not sufficiently hardened team that is one of San Antonio’s greatest strengths.
The Spurs’ 18-2 run was the stuff of rivalry legend – they missed only one of their final seven shots, with Danny Green’s 25-footer with 20.8 seconds left the game-tier, while the Warriors missed seven of their final eight. Indeed, the Spurs forced overtime despite leading for only 30 seconds of the game.
Head coach Mark Jackson tried to walk off the injury to his team’s pride by blowing the big fourth quarter lead, saying, “This was better (than Game 6 of the Denver series, which the Warriors nearly blew). There, we made mistake after mistake. Here, they are a championship team, and they made shots, and we made plays.”
This, though, damns the evening just as much, because if the Warriors did play that much better, it shows just how difficult even an incomplete Spurs team is to finish. They took a quick five-point lead in the first overtime they couldn’t hold, couldn’t get stops on five consecutive possessions in the second overtime, and couldn’t take full advantage of the 27-foot what-the-hell-I’ll-see-if-I-can-win-it-by-myself jumper by Ginobili with 44.9 to play.
It was a game of agonizing almosts for the Warriors, and will turn out to be a pivotal moment in this series. They either beat the reaper, or the reaper beats them, but for right now, all they know is this:
In this version of math, 30 is greater than 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12+13+14+15+16+17+18+19+20+21+22+23+24+25+26+27+28+29. And in this version of history, Valentine’s Day of 1997 is actually a million years ago.
But as Curry said, “We had a heartbreaker in Game 1 of the last series, but we came back in Game 2.” There is hope for the Warriors among the ashes.
But there sure are a lot of ashes.