Spurs defense holds Warriors to season low, San Antonio wins 87-79

Associated press
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Last week against Portland, Golden State scored 81 points in the first half.

But up against the best defense in the NBA, the Warriors shot just 37.8 percent overall, 25 percent from three, and their unstoppable force Stephen Curry hit just 1-of-12 from three.

That is not going to get it done against the Spurs.

San Antonio beat Golden State 87-79 in a game where the host Spurs controlled the style of play from the opening tip. It improves the Spurs to 35-0 at home and serves as a reminder to anyone who thought the Warriors were on a cake walk to another trophy that at least one team has some answers for them.

This game was played at San Antonio’s pace and in their style (just 90 possessions, nearly a dozen below the Warriors average). Curry admitted the Warriors could not get comfortable in their offense.

Which is a huge credit to the Spurs, as the Warriors forced the game toward their small ball style from the start. With Andrew Bogut out injured the Warriors went to their small ball lineup to start, with Brandon Rush. Gregg Popovich countered by sending Tim Duncan to the bench and starting Boris Diaw in his space. Duncan only played eight minutes, and for long stretches Popovich went with a double point guard lineup of Tony Parker and Patty Mills. Consider that a glimpse into the future — when the Warriors go to their death lineup in the playoffs, the Spurs feel they can match up. (To be fair, the Warriors are without Andre Iguodala, a key part of their best small lineup.)

Lineups weren’t the only thing the Spurs tried. They picked up Curry out to 30 feet, they did a good job switching and challenging threes, they used LaMarcus Aldridge more in the paint (26 points, but on 25 shots), and they seemed to run the offense through Kawhi Leonard less (18 points still, and he was a beast on the boards).

The Spurs defense was at the heart of everything — it had the Warriors rushing. The Spurs contested 37 Warriors shots and they hit just 35.1 percent on those. However, the Warriors had 36 uncontested shots and hit just 38.9 percent on those.

Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 15 points, but on 20 shots. Curry had 14 points, but on 18 shots. Looks they have hit against other teams did not fall against the Spurs, which is a bit luck but San Antonio’s smart defense had something to do with that.

The other key was the Spurs bench outplaying the Warriors bench — the Warriors starting five by itself was just -4 on the night, but the Spurs bench has been better this season and that came tough on Saturday.

Is this game indicative of what we will see in late May when these teams meet in the Western Conference Finals? (And we all know that is coming, right? Sorry Oklahoma City.)

No. Not completely. The Warriors were short-handed without two of their top six players, and they were on the second night of a back-to-back. They missed shots they often make.

But if anyone thought the Spurs simply could not keep up with the Warriors, this game proves them wrong. The first meeting between these teams was the anomaly. This game showed some of how these teams plan to attack each other in the playoffs, and the San Antonio had to like how their strategies work.

The Spurs can hang with and challenge the Warriors. This is an elite team who knows how to defend, knows how to get the shots it wants, and that can win you a title.

Is that enough come the Western Conference Finals?

Ask me in June.

Wembanyama encore: 36 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks against Ignite

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Victor Wembanyama is for real.

And I don’t mean real tall, although he is that, too. Check out this image of him next to Rudy Gobert, who is a legit 7’1″.

Wembanyama is for real like a genuine generational talent — in his second game against the G-League Ignite he had 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.

That comes off his 37-point performance in the first meeting where he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and had five blocks.

To be clear: That is 73 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks, shooting 9-of-18 from 3 (and 22-of-44 overall) across two games against a good talent level. And he is 18 years old.

Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps — Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan — but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one.

Scoot Henderson — the G-League guard projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — played just five minutes in this game after bumping his knee while guarding Wembanyama. He was taken out of the game and X-rays found a bone bruise, he did not return. He is officially day-to-day the team announced.

Wembanyama and his Metropolitans 92 got the win in this rematch, 112-106.

Draymond Green not expected to miss any games, Warriors to handle discipline ‘internally’

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.

That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.

Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.

Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.

Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.

Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”

The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.

Miami, Milwaukee have their eyes on Jae Crowder

NBA 2022 Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
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The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.

Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.

With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.

Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.

“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.

“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”

Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.

Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.

LeBron says Wembanyama is an ‘alien’ and a ‘generational talent’

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There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.

Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.

Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.

LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.

And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.