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Durant, Thompson lead Warriors to a 2-0 series lead on Spurs

/ 03:35 PM April 17, 2018

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant (35) is guarded by San Antonio Spurs’ Danny Green (14) during the first quarter in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 16, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry watched another lopsided win from the bench in sheer delight, wearing a sport coat and big smile.

The steady hands of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson certainly have made the two-time MVP’s absence far less daunting for the defending champions so far in these playoffs.

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Durant sparked a decisive third-quarter run on the way to 32 points, Thompson added 31 points and five assists in another superb playoff performance and the Golden State Warriors rallied in the second half to beat the San Antonio Spurs 116-101 on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

As Curry remains out likely for the entire series nursing a sprained left knee, the Warriors used all the offensive power they had to take both home games in the best-of-seven series.

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“No one can make up Steph’s contributions individually,” Thompson said. “That’s got to be done as a team and even then it’s hard with the way he can shoot the ball.”

Thompson has found his touch after missing two weeks in March with a broken right thumb.

He followed up his brilliant 11-for-13 shooting day in a 113-92 Game 1 rout Saturday by hitting 12 of 20 shots. Durant also had six rebounds and six assists for the Warriors, who went without key backup big man David West down the stretch after he sprained his left ankle early in the fourth.

Coach Steve Kerr stuck with JaVale McGee as his starting center and the 7-footer contributed 10 points and seven rebounds as the well-rounded defending champions again showed off their remarkable depth.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 for the Spurs despite facing double-teams and Rudy Gay moved into the starting lineup and scored 12 points.

Game 3 is Thursday as the series shifts to San Antonio.

Thompson managed just three shots in the first quarter and began 1 for 5. He pounded the basketball down with two hands, frustrated, midway through the second quarter. Then he found his groove.

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“He hit some tough shots off one leg and you know had some opportunity bounces,” Aldridge said. “That’s why they are who they are. They made tough shots. KD made tough shots.”

A baseline 3 with 55.9 seconds left before halftime was his first of the night and got Golden State within 49-45 before the Spurs took a 53-47 lead at intermission.

Draymond Green began 0 for 5 before his first basket on the opening possession of the fourth quarter and Durant missed his five 3-point tries in the first half then finally hit from deep early in the third.

The Warriors opened the third on a 19-5 run to take charge but this time the Spurs didn’t go away.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went with Gay in the starting lineup for Kyle Anderson in an effort to generate more scoring — and his team still struggled to make shots.

Popovich said before the game that Golden State in Game 1 played “the most stifling defense we faced all year long. That was the best defensive 48 minutes that we have competed against all year long.”

Kerr knew Popovich would have his team better prepared.

And the Spurs showed higher intensity on both ends through the first half, working to keep the ball out of Durant’s hands or contest shots while jumping in passing lanes to force mistakes.

Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, started a second straight game and had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Warriors beat the Spurs for the 10th time in 11 games covering the regular season and playoffs.

San Antonio struggled from the floor for the second straight game, finishing 35 for 85 (41.2 percent). In Game 1, the Spurs shot 40 just percent while going 9 for 22 from deep and got outrebounded 51-30.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Aldridge made all 12 of his free throws. … The Spurs missed 9 of their first 11 3s and were 4 for 28 from long range. … San Antonio lost its sixth straight games overall against the Warriors at Oracle Arena. … The Spurs took their first lead of the series, 18-17, with 4:20 left in the first quarter. They trailed from wire to wire in the series opener.

Warriors: Golden State outscored San Antonio 69-48 in the second half. … After getting 32 assists on 44 field goals in the series opener, the Warriors tallied 24 assists on 41 baskets. … Golden State has won nine straight postseason Game 2s, all at home, and 11 consecutive home playoff games overall.

RELIABLE WEST

West scored on three straight second-quarter possessions and finished with 10 points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.

But he got injured with 9:59 left defending Aldridge and headed to the locker room, despite appearing to try stretching out his legs to return.

“He had a really nice night,” Kerr said. “I was concerned with that sprained ankle. We’ll see how he’s doing. We need him, but he told me he was doing OK.”

QUOTEABLE

Popovich on whether he saw potential in Kerr to coach during Kerr’s four years for San Antonio:

“Oh, sure, I mean are you kidding me? He played for Phil (Jackson) for 97 years and he learned a lot and won championships. … He’s a no-brainer.”

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TAGS: Golden State Warriors, NBA playoffs, San Antonio Spurs
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