In a game 3 that was emotional for reasons beyond basketball, the Golden State Warriors defeated the San Antonio Spurs 110-97.
The Warriors are now ahead of the Spurs 3-0 in the series. No team in NBA history has ever come from behind 3-0 to win a series.
A somber aura hovered around the arena due to the passing of Gregg Popovich’s wife Eric just the day before. It was a harsh reminder that basketball is a game played by human beings and that there are far more important factors in life than any outcome decided on the court.
The tragedy understandably trivialized the task at hand for players on both teams, and the status of the Popovich family became the main concern.
Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina served as head coach for the Spurs as Popovich left the team due to the tragic circumstances.
The Warriors utilized the same starting lineup they had in games 1 and 2. Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and JaVale McGee were the starters.
The Spurs chose to stick with their same starting unit from game 2. Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Rudy Gay, and LaMarcus Aldridge got the start in front of their home crowd.
The Spurs jumped out to a 6-0 run to begin the game but soon cooled off. They missed 6 consecutive shots at one point during the first quarter.
Durant established himself early like he’d been doing the entire series. He scored 10 points in the first quarter. The quarter concluded with the Warriors ahead of the Spurs 26-23.
Although both teams shot well from the field the opening quarter, they were a combined 1-12 from 3-point range, with the Warriors going 0-5 and the Spurs going 1-7.
The Spurs looked energized in the second quarter, particularly from the play of Tony Parker off the bench, who had been a non-factor in the first two games of the series.
The Spurs took the lead in the second quarter thanks to a 13-4 run, but the Warriors seized it back with a 7-0 run of their own.
The Warriors didn’t hit their first 3-pointer of the game until the end of the second quarter when Thompson made one from the corner in transition.
The Warriors closed the half on a dominant 8-7 run, and went to the locker room holding a 52-46 lead over the Spurs.
Durant had 17 points in 19 minutes in the opening half. Gay and Parker each had 10 points for the Spurs to lead their squad at halftime.
The Warriors were just 1-11 on 3-pointers in the first half, but managed to shoot an impressive 51% from the field. Following a disappointing game 2 performance from beyond the arc, the Spurs shot just 2-13 from downtown in the first half of game 3.
The Warriors began to pull away in the 3rd quarter, and entered the final quarter ahead of the Spurs 84-72. In a worrisome moment, Durant appeared to tweak his ankle towards the end of the fourth quarter, but he was able to walk off the court without much problems.
Almost immediately after that happened, Shaun Livingston also tweaked his ankle, but proceeded to shoot his free throws. Durant and Livingston eventually both headed to the locker room to get their ankles checked out.
The Warriors still managed to win the game, but with Stephen Curry’s ankle injury, this team can’t afford any more major injuries.
Durant finished the game with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists before his exit. Thompson added 19 points of his own.
Livingston had 16 points in 20 minutes off the bench before his injury. Quinn Cook also netted 12 points off the bench.
Aldridge led the Spurs with 18 points, while Parker had his best game of the series so far by scoring 16 off the bench in 17 minutes.