Spurs dominate Warriors in Durant's debut
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kawhi Leonard poured in a career-best 35 points and LaMarcus Aldridge put together a 26-point, 14-rebound double-double Tuesday night as the San Antonio Spurs stunned Golden State 129-100 in Kevin Durant's debut for the Warriors.
Jonathon Simmons (20 points), Patty Mills (11) and Manu Ginobili (10) provided double-figure scoring off the bench, helping the Spurs use their own strength in numbers to easily beat the two-time Western Conference champs.
Durant hit 11 of 18 shots en route to 27 points, and Stephen Curry totaled 26 for the Warriors, who won an NBA-record 73 games last season and didn't suffer their first loss until Dec. 12 after a 24-game winning streak to open the year.
Leonard and Aldridge scored 13 points apiece in the third quarter for the Spurs, who set a franchise record of their own with 67 wins last season.
Down 18 at the half, the Warriors crept within 68-58 in the first 3:04 of the third period before Leonard and Aldridge took charge.
They combined for 16 points in an 18-8 burst that opened the night's first 20-point advantage and set up a comfortable finish.
Leonard connected on 10 of 21 from the field and all 15 of his free throws, helping him eclipse the 33 points he scored against Toronto last April.
Simmons, an undrafted second-year player, was a surprise element with 8-for-14 shooting and three 3-pointers. He helped San Antonio build a 54-16 bench advantage against a Warriors team that had to cut ties with several players, including big men Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, in order to fit Durant’s two-year, $54.3 million deal under the NBA salary cap.
The Spurs outrebounded Golden State 55-35.
Durant, who had 10 rebounds, and Draymond Green (18 points, 12 rebounds) finished with double-doubles for the Warriors.
Klay Thompson was held to 11 points on 1-for-6 3-point shooting, and Curry was just 3-for-10 from beyond the arc, as the Warriors unsuccessfully attempted to offset San Antonio's interior dominance with a 7-for-33 (21.2 percent) night on 3s.
San Antonio hit half of its 24 3-point shots and 48 percent overall.
The Spurs' superior depth helped the visitors explode into a 33-20 lead in the second minute of the second quarter after the game had been tied at 18.
San Antonio backups Ginobili, Mills and Simmons had 3-pointers and fellow reserve David Lee added four points in the 15-2 burst that provided the Spurs a cushion they retained the rest of the night.
Down 17 just before the midpoint of the second period, the Warriors got a three-point play and a 3-point hoop from Curry and a crowd-erupting dunk from Durant in an 8-0, 47-second flurry that closed the gap to 51-42.
But, after Golden State got as close as eight, the Spurs scored 12 of the first half's final 14 points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Simmons, to re-establish command at 64-46 at the break.
Spurs backups outscored their Warriors counterparts 30-6 in the half.
NOTES: The last time the Spurs opened a season without Tim Duncan in the starting lineup, they started Carl Herrera (scoreless in 12 minutes) in an 82-78 loss at Minnesota on Nov. 1, 1996. Seventeen games later, Bob Hill was fired as coach and replaced by Gregg Popovich. ... On facing the Spurs without Duncan, Warriors coach Steve Kerr observed before the game: "Timmy stood tallest -- literally and figuratively. It will be strange not to see him." ... The Warriors honored TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager and his fight against leukemia by giving everyone in attendance a "Sager-Strong" T-shirt. Sager hopes to return to work later this season. ... The Warriors were opening at home for the 13th time in the last 15 years. ... The record for most points in a Warriors debut is held by Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 43 against the New York Knicks on Oct. 24, 1959. ... Warriors PG Stephen Curry has made at least one 3-pointer in 153 consecutive regular-season games and SF Kevin Durant has scored at least 20 points in 65 straight. Both are tops among active players. ... Asked before the game if he recalled his reaction when he heard the news that the Warriors had signed Durant, the Spurs' Popovich noted: "I probably went to dinner." ... The Spurs played without SG Danny Green (strained left quad), who is expected to miss the first three weeks.