SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Golden State was emotionally prepared to shrug off a 22-point deficit during the first quarter in a key showdown with San Antonio.
After all, the Warriors have battled the scrutiny of failing to win an NBA championship last year after a record-setting regular season and have fought through a knee injury to Kevin Durant this season.
Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Klay Thompson had 23 and the Warriors rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 110-98 on Wednesday night for their ninth straight win.
“You don’t let go of the rope,” Curry said. “Whether it ends up in a win or a loss, you can’t ever feel like you’re out of it. Understanding based on the experiences we’ve had the last three years, we have what it takes to win all sorts of way.”
Golden State extended its lead over San Antonio to 3 1/2 games for the league’s best record, beating the Spurs for the first time in three meetings this season.
The Warriors rallied to beat the Spurs a day after defeating the Rockets 113-106 in Houston, giving Golden State consecutive wins over the West’s best.
“This was a big win for us, a confidence booster,” said Warriors veteran David West, who scored 14 points. “Because, obviously, they are two tough teams, two playoffs teams, two teams we could see possibly late in the year. I thought the guys showed great resolve and focus.”
The Spurs had a five-game winning streak halted in inglorious fashion. San Antonio got off to its best start of the season two days after dismantling Cleveland in a 29-point victory. The Spurs raced to a 33-17 lead in the opening quarter, matching their largest lead of the season after the first quarter.
“We had a great start, as everybody saw,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We kind of caught them by storm at the beginning.”
Andre Iguodala’s 20-foot fadeaway jumper off one leg in the final seconds kept the Warriors from matching a season-low for points in the opening period.
Iguodala finished with 14 points.
Golden State rallied from that horrendous start, overcoming a 22-point deficit in the first quarter to take its first lead at 59-57 on Thompson’s 3-pointer 1:20 into the second half.
Unlike last season when they captured a record-setting 73 wins in the regular season, the Warriors are not focused on their record.
“Last year, things kind of got pushed under the rug and painted over a little bit because we were winning games,” Curry said. “It wasn’t really a great way to go into the playoffs. It was obviously a good emotion, but we had some habits that needed to be fixed. I think now we understand how important our defense is for us winning, especially in the playoffs.”
The Warriors demonstrated that by outscoring the Spurs 93-65 after the first quarter.
San Antonio had 14 turnovers in the final three quarters.
“Our offense kind of got stagnant a little bit,” Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said. “Some miscommunication on the switches. We knew they were going to make shots.”
Leonard had 19 points and five assists for San Antonio. Leonard shot 7 for 20 from the field while being guarded by a rotation of defenders.
“We’ve got a lot of good defenders on this team,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s a luxury to be able to put Andre, Matt Barnes, Sean Livingston, Klay to mix it up and throw different bodies. It’s helpful for us.”
Golden State finished 13 for 26 on 3-pointers after shooting 2 of 5 on 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Ginobili had 18 points for San Antonio, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 17.
Warriors: Golden State forward Kevin Durant worked out on the court before the game, but remains sidelined by an injured left knee. Kerr said there is no update on a possible return, but is encouraged that Durant is moving well and progressing. Durant played a “hard” 1-on-1 against Golden State assistant coach Willie Green earlier in the day. “Kevin got him pretty good,” Kerr said. “It’s a good sign. If Willie had beaten him, I would have been worried.” ... Curry has 289 3-pointers this season, second-most in league history, surpassing the 286 he made in 2015. Curry set the league record with 402 3s last season. ... Golden State has seven winning streaks of at least seven games in three seasons under Kerr.
Spurs: Ginobili has played 987 regular-season games in his career, tying Hall of Famer David Robinson for third all-time in franchise history behind Tony Parker (1,136) and Tim Duncan (1,392). ... PG Patty Mills has 582 career 3-pointers, one more than Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. ... San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said rookie Dejounte Murray is progressing slowly, but remains out with a left groin injury. ... San Antonio has eight games remaining, including four at home. ... The Spurs are 106-57 overall against the Warriors.
NEVER GOING TO LET YOU GO
Ginobili said he won’t make a decision about whether he will return for a 16th season until the Spurs’ year is done, but Popovich doesn’t want him going anywhere.
“I don’t ever want him to retire,” Popovich said, smiling. “I want to squeeze every last ounce of juice I can. I’m going to use him like a bar of soap until there’s nothing left.”
Warriors: Host Houston on Friday night.
Spurs: At Oklahoma City on Friday night.