The Golden State Warriors? After 12 straight seasons of sitting home for the postseason, they're still learning.
Duncan had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs, who won for the ninth time in 10 road games with two exceptional quarters against the Warriors' shoddy defense. One night after posting a 41-point victory at Seattle, the Spurs outscored Golden State 66-36 in the middle two periods, snapping the Warriors' five-game home winning streak.
The Spurs were businesslike after the game, mindful they hadn't exactly beaten a team at their elite level. In fact, the Spurs prefer to downplay all their excellent recent work - and they're quietly honing their postseason form while the rest of the league focuses on Dallas and Phoenix above them in the conference standings.
"It's not the way we plan to come in and win games, but it's great to have games like that," Duncan said. "We've been moving the ball really well against teams that rely on pressure, turnovers and going with small lineups. It all works together, and it was good for us."
The Spurs jumped to a 19-point halftime lead on 14-for-18 shooting in the second quarter, with Duncan scoring 13 points and Finley adding 12. San Antonio put it away with a 23-2 run in the third quarter, with Parker mercilessly shredding the Warriors as the Spurs' lead expanded from 16-point lead to 100-63 in just 6½ minutes.
"We have to recognize that San Antonio is one of the best-executing teams in the league," said Stephen Jackson, who scored 12 points for Golden State. "They went through our defense like it was nothing today."
Baron Davis and Monta Ellis scored 17 points apiece for the Warriors, whose 4-for-23 shooting in the third quarter abetted San Antonio's surge. Golden State has lost three of four during a key stretch for its playoff hopes, falling two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers into a ninth-place tie with New Orleans in the Western Conference.
Both clubs played on the road Sunday night, but only the veteran Spurs had the necessary energy to win back-to-back games.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it was "one of those nights where one team plays about as well as it can, and one team plays poorly. ... There's always nights when you can't throw it in the ocean."
San Antonio made 67.5 percent of its shots in the first half while besting its previous season high for points in the half. Duncan dominated Andris Biedrins inside, while Finley -- who made nine of his first 10 shots -- provided a boost off the bench along with Manu Ginobili, who hit three 3-pointers among his 17 points.
"I want to believe at this point of the season, we don't care about (one win)," Ginobili said. "We know we're still third, and really far away from Phoenix, so we've just got to stay focused on improving."
One night after a last-second loss to the Lakers when Al Harrington missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Warriors couldn't keep up with San Antonio's precise offense.
Only Davis showed much passion among the Warriors' regulars. Jason Richardson went scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting in 28 minutes, and Harrington scored one points in 19 listless minutes.
"We had nothing in the tank tonight," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "We have been able to find some juice at home, but not tonight."
San Antonio beat the Warriors by 40 points on Dec. 4 -- and this meeting was even more discouraging, judging by the desolate expressions on the Golden State players' faces.
Even Golden State's normally loyal fans booed the Warriors off the court in the third quarter, and two-thirds of the crowd had left before the final buzzer. The Spurs' regulars all rested for the entire fourth quarter, as did most of the Warriors' starters.
|How long can the Spurs stay hot? Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich ponder possibilities. (Getty Images)|
|San Antonio (50-20) «||36||37||29||24||126|
|Golden State (33-39)||30||24||12||23||89|
|SA:T. Duncan 20 Pts
SA:F. Elson 9 Reb
SA:T. Parker 9 Ast
|GS:B. Davis 17 Pts
GS:M. Pietrus 8 Reb
GS:S. Jasikevicius 6 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|Golden State||San Antonio|
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|B. Bowen, SF||33||4-8||5-5||4||1||0||14|
|T. Parker, PG||29||6-10||8-10||2||9||1||20|
|T. Duncan, PF||27||7-13||6-7||8||5||1||20|
|F. Elson, C||19||1-2||0-0||9||0||3||2|
|B. Barry, SG||18||3-4||2-3||2||4||4||10|
|M. Ginobili, SG||23||5-7||4-5||6||2||1||17|
|M. Finley, SG||20||9-12||0-0||3||2||1||20|
|J. Vaughn, PG||19||1-2||2-2||3||4||2||4|
|J. White, G||15||3-4||3-3||3||0||3||9|
|M. Bonner, PF||14||2-2||0-0||3||1||3||6|
|F. Oberto, PF||13||2-4||0-0||2||3||2||4|
|B. Udrih, PG||10||0-4||0-0||1||2||1||0|
|R. Horry, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Ely, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Butler, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Richardson, SG||29||0-8||0-0||0||1||4||0|
|S. Jackson, SG||27||2-8||7-8||5||2||0||12|
|B. Davis, PG||26||7-19||3-4||0||3||1||17|
|A. Biedrins, C||22||4-6||2-2||5||0||3||10|
|A. Harrington, PF||18||0-5||1-2||3||0||3||1|
|M. Ellis, PG||29||7-13||3-3||1||5||3||17|
|M. Pietrus, SF||26||3-5||1-2||8||0||2||10|
|M. Barnes, SF||17||3-7||0-2||3||1||4||7|
|S. Jasikevicius, PG||13||1-5||0-0||0||6||2||2|
|J. Powell, PF||12||4-6||0-0||3||1||0||8|
|A. Foyle, C||10||0-1||0-0||4||0||1||0|
|K. Azubuike, SF||10||2-6||1-2||1||0||0||5|
|Z. Cabarkapa, SF||Did Not Play|
|P. O'Bryant, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|