Depleted Warriors Score Season-Low 75 Points, Lose to LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 19: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors on March 19, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Monday’s Western Conference Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs surely stood out when the 2017-18 NBA schedule was released.

So much for that.

With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard all sidelined, San Antonio’s 89-75 victory at AT&T Center felt more like a preseason contest than a critical regular-season showdown at times. Mark Medina of the Mercury News noted Golden State’s previous low in points was 81 before the ugly showing.

Still, the Spurs will gladly take their fourth straight win considering they are battling just to make the playoffs at this point. It also marked their first victory over Golden State this season after the defending champions captured the first three meetings.

LaMarcus Aldridge played the role of hero, helping turn a deficit after three quarters into a win by scoring his team’s first 11 points of the fourth on his way to 33 points, 12 boards and two blocks.

It isn’t often the opponent has more star power off the court than the Spurs this season considering Leonard has played just nine games, but that was the case Monday. The Warriors announced Curry was out with an ankle injury, Durant was out with a rib injury, Thompson was out with a fractured right thumb and Omri Casspi was out with an ankle injury.

That, in theory, put the onus on Draymond Green as the remaining All-Star in the lineup to carry the offensive load and serve as the versatile playmaker who is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor.

However, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area cited colleague Kerith Burke and noted the Michigan State product was ruled out at halftime with a midsection injury after scoring zero points and grabbing three rebounds, leaving it up to Andre Iguodala (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) and the rest of the role players to elevate their games against a Spurs team that prides itself on defense.

San Antonio is third in the league in defensive rating, per NBA.com, and swarmed the short-handed Warriors from the opening tip during a 20-6 run to start the game.

Golden State had little offensive flow without its quartet of All-Stars, and it appeared as if the Spurs would run away with it. To its credit, it battled all the way back to take the lead as Quinn Cook dialed things back to his March Madness days at Duke as a lethal offensive threat.

The point guard finished with 20 points, five assists and five rebounds, facilitating the offense by darting through the defense and creating looks for himself and others.

He tied the game in the third by spinning through the lane and drilling a fadeaway jumper shortly after he connected from long range, and Kevon Looney followed with four straight points to give the Warriors the lead entering the final quarter.

Cook was a lone bright spot for Golden State as the only player with more than 12 points, and Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated wondered if he’s shown enough to merit a playoff roster spot:

One reason San Antonio was unable to pull away from Cook and the rest of its depleted opponent is an attack that is a middling 17th in the league in offensive rating, per NBA.com, and rarely inspires the way a fully healthy Warriors squad does.

It was stagnant for extended stretches, especially when it threw up enough bricks to build a dam by the River Walk during a 12-point third quarter. Golden State’s defense deserves plenty of credit for the showing, as it threw double-teams at Aldridge and quickly rotated to get to the outside shooters in time, preventing open looks.

However, Aldridge went into takeover mode in the fourth and went straight at David West and JaVale McGee on the blocks a number of times to ensure his team wouldn’t lose at home to Golden State’s backups.

Like Cook, the big man was the only player on his team to score more than 12 points in the offensively challenged battle.

The injury-riddled Warriors will look to bounce back Friday against the Atlanta Hawks, while the Spurs will face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.