LOS ANGELES: The San Antonio Spurs shut down Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, winning the clash of NBA heavyweights 87-79 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to remain perfect on their home floor this season.
The reigning NBA champion Warriors might be marching toward a single-season record for victories, but they still couldn’t find a way to win in San Antonio, where they haven’t come away with a victory since February 14, 1997.
The Spurs, who have put together a magnificent season in the shadow of Golden State, improved to 59-10 and 35-0 at home. They have won 44 straight regular-season games in San An¬tonio in a streak dating to last March.
San Antonio’s streak is tied for the second-longest in NBA history behind only the continuing home streak of Golden State, now at 50 games.
The Spurs held the Warriors scoreless over the final 2:33, building a three-point lead to the final eight-point margin as they asserted themselves against a Warriors team that beat them in Oakland on January 25.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker said San Antonio learned from that game that they couldn’t let the Warriors dictate the pace.
“This time we tried to slow it down and tried to control it,” Parker said, and the strategy worked — at least this time.
“I think the whole league is trying to figure them out,” Parker said. “I’m not saying we’ve figured them out, but it was better than the last game.”
San Antonio cut the Warriors’ first-place lead in the Western Conference to three games with two more matchups between the two remaining in the regular season.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs, who held reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Curry to 14 points.
Curry connected on just four of 18 shots—only one of 12 from three-point range.
“He missed some shots he normally makes, but he also had to take some tough ones,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Curry missed seven three-point attempts before making his first over Aldridge to knot the score at 55-55 in the third quarter after the Spurs had led by as many as 11.
Kerr proud of effort
San Antonio scored the next five with a three-pointer from Parker and two free throws from Aldridge, but the Warriors had tied things up again 65-65 at the end of the third to set up a furious fourth quarter.
Kerr said the Warriors felt the absence of Australian big man Andrew Bogut, who hurt a toe in a win at Dallas on Friday, as well as backup center Festus Ezeli and Andre Iguodala.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys — what an effort,” said Kerr, who drew a technical foul for arguing a call in the first quarter. “All the odds were stacked against us: ninth game in 14 days, back-to-back (off) obviously a tough game last night, down three important rotation guys. We hung in there right to the end.”
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 15 points. Draymond Green added 11 and Brandon Rush chipped in 10.
Golden State suffered just their seventh defeat of the season against 62 wins, a hiccup in their pursuit of the single-season record of 72 victories set by the Chicago Bulls of 1995-96.
Wade shines for Heat
The clash in San Antonio overshadowed Saturday’s other action, which included a milestone night for Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Heat playmaker Wade became the 41st NBA player to reach 20,000 career points, scoring 24 in Miami’s 122-101 victory over former Heat teammate LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Wade cracked the milestone midway into the third quarter as the Heat never trailed in dropping James to 0-4 at Miami since he departed the team he sparked to two NBA crowns to return home to the Cavaliers.
James scored 26 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the floor as the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers (49-20) are 3-0 in Cleveland against Miami since the move.
Russell Westbrook had his 14th triple-double of the season scoring 14 points with 11 rebounds and 14 assists and Kevin Durant produced 33 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to power Oklahoma City to a 115-111 victory at Indiana.
Zach Randolph produced his first career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to spark host Memphis over the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102. At 34, he’s the third-oldest to manage the feat in an NBA game.