Warriors survive test from Heat: 'Definitely a different game'

Warriors survive test from Heat: 'Definitely a different game'

OAKLAND -- The Miami Heat these days aren’t much to look at. The megastars have abandoned South Beach, leaving the franchise to hatch anew. Yet as the brain trust eyes the future, those still in uniform play with an admirable relentlessness.

Which is exactly what the Warriors need to see and feel, as often as possible.

If the Warriors are to reach the NBA summit in June, they’re going to need plenty of experience in rugged, ugly, borderline-brutal games, such as that which the Heat forced them into Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

Though the Warriors prevailed, 107-95, they took many blows along the way, beating back multiple rallies. Not until the final seconds were they able to exhale.

“They play hard every possession,” coach Steve Kerr said of the Heat.

“They just play hard,” Stephen Curry said. “Every possession, they were coming at you.”

For a team like the Warriors, who can get casual about their abundance of talent, being pushed and shoved and made to perspire is fabulous practice.

As is having an 11-point lead after three quarters shaved to three by the middle of the fourth.

The Warriors were put in a position where they had to execute, or else risk losing to a team that had lost eight of nine and entered the evening with an 11-28 record.

They succeeded.

“Yeah, we didn’t turn the ball over, which is helping us at least get shots on the rim,” Curry said. “We definitely had several possessions where we knew exactly what we wanted to get and we executed.

“That’ll continue to show itself as we go through the season with just our focus and just the clarity of what we want to accomplish down the stretch of games. Whether we make or miss shots, you live with that, but not turning the ball over and getting a lot of movement and not settling, that was big for us tonight.”

Kevin Durant, who scored a team-high 28 points, took note of the team’s work in the fourth quarter and came away feeling as if there is progress in an area that had been an issue in close games.

“Coach called some plays and we ran them to perfection and got some layups and got some stops as well,” he said. “It was definitely a different game, not having him out there, but we adjusted as the game went on.”

Though it may have been against Miami without LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, this was no gimme. This is not a team that will be in the playoffs, but it brought intensity to everything it did Tuesday night.

And that’s enough for the Warriors to derive some healthy benefit.

Spurs beat Grizz, advance to face Rockets in Western Conference semis

Spurs beat Grizz, advance to face Rockets in Western Conference semis

BOX SCORE

MEMPHIS, Tenn -- Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, and the San Antonio Spurs advanced to the Western Conference semifinals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies 103-96 Thursday night to take the series 4-2.

The Spurs now have beaten Memphis four of the five playoff series between these teams, and this was San Antonio's second straight win over the Grizzlies in the first round.

Tony Parker added 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Patty Mills had 10 points off the bench for the Spurs. San Antonio outrebounded Memphis 46-28, with 16 of those offensive boards. That led to 17 second-chance points.

Their semifinal with Houston will start Monday night in San Antonio.

Mike Conley scored 26 points, leading the five Memphis starters in double digits. Marc Gasol added 18, Zach Randolph 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Vince Carter had 12 points.

The Grizzlies fell to 3-10 in elimination games, losing six straight.

This was a taut game with 16 ties and nine lead changes, especially with four ties in the fourth quarter.

The Spurs took control after the Grizzlies went up 88-81 on three free throws from Conley with 6:29 left. Then Leonard scored eight straight for San Antonio, starting a 22-8 run to finish the game.

Even with Conley and Gasol a combined 2 of 10 in the first quarter, the Grizzlies trailed only 24-22 after Conley knocked down a 3 at the end of the quarter for his first bucket of the game. Conley hit another 3 for the final shot in the second quarter, putting Memphis up 50-45. The team that led at halftime won each of the first five games.

Parker hit his first six shots before finally missing his seventh with 29 seconds left in the first half.

The Grizzlies took their biggest lead at 57-47 on a 3-pointer by James Ennis III. That gave Memphis as many made 3s (9 of 17) as the Spurs had attempted (3 of 9) at that point. Randolph's layup with 7:19 left matched that 10-point lead at 63-53.

Then the Spurs went on a 13-3 run over a 4-minute span to erase that lead on Aldridge's three-point play at 67-66. Aldridge finished with nine points in helping the Spurs lead 75-74 at the end of the quarter.

TIP-INS

Spurs: They improved to 36-15 with a chance to clinch a series under coach Gregg Popovich, who took over in the 1996-97 season. ... Manu Ginobili converted a four-point play with 1:31 left in the third, putting the Spurs up 73-69. ... The Spurs wound up tying the Grizzlies' reserves with 16 points thanks to Mills.

Grizzlies: The Grizzlies set a franchise record hitting eight 3-pointers in the first half, topping the previous mark of seven in the second half May 1, 2005, against Phoenix. ... Conley has 20 or more points in five straight playoff games, the longest such streak in franchise history.

FREE THROW WATCH

Memphis coach David Fizdale earned a $30,000 fine from the NBA for his "Take that for data" rant about the free throw discrepancy in Game 2. Well, Leonard was 9 of 10 at the free throw line through three quarters compared to the Grizzlies' 7 of 8. The Spurs were 18 of 20 through three quarters. The Spurs finished 22 of 25 compared to 20 of 24 for Memphis.

Warriors GM Myers 'very, very confident' Kerr will return to coaching

Warriors GM Myers 'very, very confident' Kerr will return to coaching

Steve Kerr did not coach in Game 3 or Game 4 against the Blazers and is out indefinitely.

On Thursday, Warriors GM Bob Myers spoke with Jim Rome about Kerr's situation.

“What he’s going through right now is not a product of stress, it’s not a product of coaching, it’s more a physical issue that will be solved," Myers started. "When it will be solved, no one can say. But it is solvable, it’s fixable and like I said, he’s going to coach, but right now he just can’t.

"There’s some things that need to be corrected. But I think he’ll get back. I’m very very confident he will be back coaching, I just can’t say when.”

Kerr was not at practice on Wednesday and is consulting with specialists at Stanford this week.

Kerr is finishing up Year 3 of the five-year deal he signed back in May 2014.

"I think this guy is going to coach for a long time, because he thoroughly enjoys it," Myers said. "He really loves the game, and he is a great teacher. And you’ve had him on, I’m sure you’ve met him and talked to him. It’s one thing to know the game, but he has the ability to communicate it and our players clearly respond.

"So I can see that’s why a question you’d ask I totally get it and other people have asked but no I think he’s going to be in this game for a long time, we just have to get him back healthy now.”

The Warriors' next practice and media availability is on Friday.

The next series against the Jazz or Clippers will start on either Sunday or Tuesday.