The San Antonio Spurs struggled without Kawhi Leonard and dropped Game 2 to the Golden State Warriors, 136-100.
USA TODAY Sports
OAKLAND — Five takeaways from the Golden State Warriors’ 136-100 rout of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. With Game 3 on Saturday in San Antonio, the Warriors lead the series 2-0.
The game was the game.
No Kawhi Leonard meant no chance for the Spurs, who had found a way to close out the Houston Rockets without their star in the last round but showed zero fight when faced with the challenge against these Warriors this time around. And the postgame, as it turned out, was the place to be for the real entertainment.
The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich gave as candid an assessment of his team’s performance as you’ll ever hear from a head coach, the kind of media session that reporters dream of and players loathe. Especially if you’re LaMarcus Aldridge.
When asked about the Spurs forward who hit just one shot in the first half and finished with eight points, four rebounds, and a minus-20 rating in 26 minutes, Popovich didn’t hold back.
“LaMarcus has to score for us,” Popovich said. “He can’t be timid. He turned down shots in the first quarter. He can’t do it. You’ve got to score. Scoring has to come from someplace. I think he’s got a major responsibility in Game 3 to come out and get something done. Whether it’s for himself or teammates. They come after him, to find somebody, turn it over, take good shots. He’s got to do it. No doubt about it.”
Pop unplugged, Part II
Only the Spurs themselves know why they didn’t show more pride. They trailed 33-16 after one quarter, 72-44 at halftime, and generally looked as if they couldn’t wait to book a Bermuda vacation in the offseason.
But it’s fair to wonder if Popovich’s rant on Monday, when he went in on Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia for the part he played in Leonard’s injury and generally sounded like someone who had very little hope of winning the series without his services, had any impact on the psyche of his players. Either way, a Spurs team that almost always comports itself with professionalism, focus and intensity did nothing of the sort.
“You have to believe,” Popovich said. “I don’t think as a group they really did, which means probably a little bit feeling sorry for themselves psychologically, subconsciously, whatever psycho-babble word you want to use. That’s the way I process it. I don’t think they started the game with a belief. And it showed in the lack of edge, intensity, grunts, all that sort of thing. That was disappointing. When you’re playing a team that’s as good as Golden State, you’re going to get embarrassed if that’s the way you come out, and we did, so I think that’s the deal, more than anything.”
Only Jonathon Simmons, who had 22 points in 21 minutes, avoided Popovich’s wrath. Everyone else, the Spurs coach had said, was in the other category.
Translation: Be ashamed. Very ashamed.
Aldridge spoke after Popovich in the postgame scene, meaning he had to answer to his coach’s harsh criticism.
“Yeah, I took the wrong approach,” said Aldridge, who is now averaging 23.3 points (50.8% shooting overall), and 7.7 rebounds per game in this series. “I watched the end of last game and I saw how they were doubling and they were trying to crowd me, so I thought I would come out and try to move the ball, but I ended up taking myself out of rhythm and out of the flow of the game. But I’ll be better (in Game 3), and I’ll definitely be better by next game.
“But I definitely took the wrong approach. I just wanted to try to take advantage of them digging on me and doubling in the baseline and doubling from the middle, too. At times it was three guys there. But I took myself out if it but it won’t happen again.”
Kerr coming along
As if the fact that the Warriors are 10-0 in the postseason so far wasn’t enough gravy, Golden State is enjoying the increased presence of head coach Steve Kerr in recent days. There remains no timetable for his return, but Kerr was present behind the scenes and vocal for the second consecutive playoff game. What’s more, acting head coach Mike Brown told USA TODAY Sports that he expects Kerr to join the team in San Antonio. Kerr, who hasn’t coached since Game 2 of the first round against Portland, has been battling symptoms from his botched back surgery of two summers ago.
“I thought in Game 1, you know, (and) Steve (Kerr) did too, we didn’t come out with a sense of urgency, so that was one of the messages that we gave to our team right from jump street (in Game 2),” Brown said. “We’ve got to come out from the beginning with a sense of urgency. We can’t ease into the game. We give all of our guys credit. They did not do that. They came out with a sense of urgency from the beginning.”
‘Round here …
The happiest man at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night? Counting Crows leading singer Adam Duritz, a San Francisco Bay Area native who splits his fandom between the Warriors and the Boston Celtics.
Duritz, who lived in Boston briefly in his younger years and is good friends with Kerr, enjoyed the latest Warriors win in person while relishing in the surreal reality that his Celtics earned a trip to the Eastern Conference finals on Monday only to earn the No. 1 pick in the lottery just a day later. He visited the Warriors locker room after the game, then admitted that a possible Celtics-Warriors matchup in the NBA Finals would be a bit too much to bear.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @sam_amick.
PHOTOS: Best of the NBA conference finals