Season 51, Game 65
San Antonio 107, Golden State 110
37-28, 5th in the West

The San Antonio Spurs could have won this game.

You can argue they should have won this game.

And hey, they probably would have won this game with a healthy starting five.

You’re probably just as tired of reading those three sentences as we are tired of writing those three sentences, but here we are again. San Antonio held an eight-point lead late in the game and watched it evaporate into thin air behind a brilliant performance by the Warriors’ Kevin Durant.

The Spurs could have won this game. All-Star captain Stephen Curry rolled his ankle on a layup attempt early in the first quarter and did not return. And no, it was not a dirty play, nor was it revenge for the series-altering injury to Kawhi Leonard in last year’s Western Conference Finals. Curry is listed as day-to-day and is likely going to be just fine.

With Curry sitting, the Spurs had a puncher’s chance to steal a win on the road. The problem? When the Warriors are missing one all-star, they have three others to pass the baton to. The Spurs… well, they have LaMarcus Aldridge and that’s about it.

If you want to argue that San Antonio should have won this game, Aldridge is where it starts. The man scored 30 points, shot 55% from the field, knocked down 8-11 free throws, and pulled down 17(!!) rebounds, including five of the coveted offensive variety. Aldridge continue to be a huge positive force, sometimes the only positive force, for the Spurs.

The other star of the night for San Antonio was Kyle Anderson. Slapped with the unenviable task of guarding Durant for a majority of the night, Anderson played some admirable defense. Sure, anyone with a pair of eyes can tell you that Durant dropped 37 points on the Spurs on Thursday night, but Anderson did his part to slow down KD before he decided to score 14 points in a row in the waning minutes of the game. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time Anderson took it to Durant, either, just ask these Russian-speaking broadcasters. And here’s a video of Kyle Anderson in high school, making a bunch of high school kids look silly. The description says that Durant claimed Anderson was the #1 high school player in 2012, so I’m gonna assume it’s relevant to this recap.

On Thursday night, Anderson didn’t have the prettiest shooting night (5-12), but he made some good buckets, grabbed 11 rebounds, and recorded five steals, including a nifty poke away on Durant himself. Give SlowMo some credit here, despite being beat off the pick by Durant, Anderson recovers and forces the unsuspecting Durant into a turnover.  I can’t find a video of the play, but here’s a nice still image:

Kyle Anderson knocks ball away from Kevin Durant
Image credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Lastly, you can certainly make the argument that if the Spurs weren’t missing Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol, they would have won this game. After all, they only lost by three points. The funny thing about that argument is, you can make it until you’re blue in the face and it still doesn’t wipe away the fact that San Antonio coughed up an 8-point lead with under five minutes to play.

The Spurs shot 1-7 in the final four minutes of the game, sent the Warriors to the free throw line seven times, and ran the worst offensive plays I’ve even seen a Gregg Popovich team run with chances to tie the game in the last 60 seconds. That might seem like a crappy way to end this recap, but that is what happened and I don’t know how to pretend that it didn’t.

San Antonio heads to Oklahoma City for another huge matchup on Saturday, March 10 at 7:30pm CT. There are plenty of playoff implications on the line, and while beating the Thunder wouldn’t necessarily give the Spurs any breathing room, it sure would be a lot more fun than losing again.

Go Spurs Go.

Feature image credit: Carlos Farjado/Bay Area News Group