The Spurs will have to wait for another season to make the AT&T Center the only perfect home court in NBA history.
Suffering a 92-86 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors that extended the first losing streak of the season to three games, the Spurs on Sunday saw their chance to record the first-ever unbeaten home court record denied by a combination of Steph Curry’s offensive greatness and the Spurs’ sudden inability to score against an under-appreciated Golden State defense.
Curry scored 26 of his game-high 37 points in the second half as the Warriors defeated the Spurs for the second time in the last four days. He made 4-of-9 3-pointers and 13-of-22 shots overall.
“Steph got away from us for a while,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “but part of it was some bad shots (by the Spurs). We lost our poise for about a three-minute period and we were in constant transition and he got away from us.
“And that was the difference in the ball game.”
Despite Curry’s second-half explosion, the Spurs held the Warriors 23 points under their season scoring average of 115 points per game, ordinarily a formula that would have produced victory.
On this night, however, the Spurs were almost 18 points below their scoring average, making only 34-of-90 shots.
Only LaMarcus Aldridge was able to penetrate the Golden State defense with any consistency. He made 11-of-18 shots and scored 24 points.
Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points but needed 22 shots to get them. Starting guards Tony Parker and Danny Green combined to make only 3-of-14 shots and score only 6 points. Green missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
“They are one of the best (defensive teams) in the league,” Popovich said. “I don’t know what all the numbers are, all the analytical crap, but they are one of the best defensive teams in the league, and you combine that with what they do offensively, and that’s why they are where they are.
“They are the best team on the planet.”
Now it is left for the Warriors to put the finishing touches on what would be a truly remarkable piece of NBA history: The best regular season record ever. Their win on Sunday assures them no worse than a tie for the all-time record, the 72-10 mark compiled by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. A win over the Memphis Grizzlies in their season finale at Oakland’s Oracle Arena on Wednesday night will make them the all-time winning team in league annals.
“What they accomplished (is) incredible, playing at a very hard level, a type of basketball that is very unique,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “It’s not luck, for sure. They had and they are having an unbelievable season.”
The prospect of surpassing the 1995-96 Bulls mark amazes Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a member of that signature team, as well as a winner of two NBA championships (1999 and 2003) as a Spur.
“I don’t know what to say, really,” Kerr said. “It’s crazy, it just feels like right place, right time to be part of two teams that performed like this and won at this level for the entire season. Pretty lucky, really, just to play next to Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen) and Dennis (Rodman) and play for Phil (Jackson) and then come here and inherit this whole group, Steph and Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) and Andre (Igoudala) and everybody else as my first coaching job. A pretty good draw.”
Sunday’s win was Golden State’s first in San Antonio since Feb. 14, 1997, in the Spurs’ final season before drafting Tim Duncan. The Spurs had beaten them in 33 consecutive games in San Antonio, and in two different arenas: The Alamodome and AT&T Center.
To put the Spurs’ domination of the Warriors in San Antonio in perspective, Steph Curry’s father, Dell Curry, was still five years shy of retiring from his 16-season NBA career the last time the Warriors won in The Alamo City.
*Top image: The San Antonio Spurs 2015-2016 Roster and Coaching Staff. Photo by Scott Ball.