ORACLE ARENA — Nobody predicted the Warriors would get this far in the playoffs. But it’s still an empty feeling to be eliminated in a playoff series when you were the better team for much of it.
The Spurs outshot and outplayed the Warriors when it mattered, with all five starters scoring in double figures as they beat the Warriors 94-82 to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Tim Duncan led San Antonio scoring 19 points, Kwahi Leonard added 16 and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, and Tony Parker had 13 points and dished out eight assists.
For the Warriors, Stephen Curry had a game-high 22 points and Jarrett Jack added 15 off the bench. But Golden State shot only 38.8 percent as Klay Thompson was held to 4-of-12 shooting, scoring just 10 points.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he tried to take time outs quickly after big threes by Curry and Thompson so they wouldn’t get into a rhythm:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
Audio: Sarah Todd/SFBay
“We just don’t want them to get on any kind of roll or momentum. I think I made that mistake in some of the earlier games, Games 1 and 2, let them go off without trying to break the rhythm. We wanted to try to make sure we didn’t do that again.”
Tiago Splitter scored four points on quick layups to open the fourth before Jack answered with a three point play, then David Lee added a jump shot.
With the Warriors trailing by six points, a Thompson 3-pointer made it a three-point game but Manu Ginobili responded for the Spurs with a running hook shot in the paint.
As the fourth quarter waned, Parker hit a wide open 3-pointer with 3:36 remaining to stretch the Spurs’ lead to 80-75.
The Warriors got it within three points after two free throws by Jarrett Jack, but Kwahi Leonard was wide open on the other end for a big 3-pointer and just like that, the Spurs were back up by six points inside the final two minutes.
Parker’s three with 1:15 left was the dagger, putting San Antonio on top by nine points to seal the win.
Parker talked about the importance of closing out the series in Game 6:
Warriors guard Tony Parker
Audio: Sarah Todd/SFBay
“It’s huge for us. Obviously with our team, the more rest we get it gives us a lot of energy for the next series. It was very big, you could see Pop was all over the place. Everybody knew how important it was to finish tonight and to win on the road, so its a big win. Now we can prepare to go against Memphis.”
The Warriors had held their own early, trailing 21-19 after 12 minutes, with Lee coming off the bench to score four points in five minutes of play. But the Spurs held a slight edge shooting 47.4 percent to 44.4 for Golden State.
San Antonio went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to seize a 10-point lead. But the Warriors answered with a 9-2 run to trail by only three points again.
With 1:15 left in the half Boris Diaw drove for a shot in the paint. Barnes jumped to defend and was clipped by Diaw from underneath.
Barnes landed hard on his right side, knocking his head against the hardwood and lay motionless on the court for several minutes while surrounded by teammates, coaches, and training staff. He was helped up and taken to the locker room with a trainer holding a piece of cotton to the right side of his temple.
Barnes came out of the locker room just before the start of the second half after passing multiple concussion tests, with six stitches around his right eyebrow.
Curry was the only one in double digits, with no one else carrying the team offensively. The Spurs kept making shots while the Warriors struggled.
Curry told SFBay that it was hard to come out of game mode and realize that his team made it this far and that he was already thinking about next season:
Warriors guard Stephen Curry
“It will take a minute to realize the accomplishments we have made, for a Warriors team to be in this position, it’s a good thing, and we can build on this for next year. We got three and half months to sit on it and think back and learn from everything, the good and the bad this year. Whoever is in that Warriors locker room next year will be ready to go.”
The Warriors didn’t get a basket from Thompson until there was 3:15 left in the third quarter, a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to eight points.
Thompson and Curry made back-to-back pull-up jumpers to make it a two point game with 4:52 left in regulation. But the Warriors had to go without Barnes the rest of the game as he left the floor due to strong headaches.
The Warriors’ arsenal depleted a little more as each minute passed. Soon after Barnes left the court, Carl Landry picked up his fourth foul, while Festus Ezeli already had four of his own and Andris Biedrins sat with five. Meanwhile, big man Andrew Bogut was watching from the bench with serious ankle pain.
Coach Mark Jackson said that even when it seemed his team was slowly dropping out one by one, they battled and he was proud of what they were able to do:
Warriors coach Mark Jackson
“I talked about this being a group that at the end of the day, our tank will be on empty and the light will be beaming bright. I truly believe that’s exactly what took place. Guys battled. Guys gave me everything they had. We fought. I could not be prouder of any group. I can go on and win championships and I will no be prouder of any group that I ever coached than this group.”
Following Thursday’s loss, fans stayed in the arena chanting “Warriors”. Curry and Lee addressed the fans telling them once again that they were the best in the NBA. Later, many Warriors took to Twitter to show their disappointment how the season ended, and their appreciation of the fans:
Amazing season by the best group of guys in the NBA, sorry to see it end tonight! Thanks again to our fans for their loyal support!!! #GSW
— David Lee (@Dlee042) May 17, 2013
Feeling a little bit better…but wanted to say thank you #DubNation for great support this season. You guys are the best fans in the NBA.
— Harrison Barnes (@hbarnes) May 17, 2013
Thank you God. Thank you #dubnation. Thank you 2 all my teammates & coaches. Thanks to everyone apart of this year and the run…next year!
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) May 17, 2013
Even San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee released a statement after the Warriors saying that he and all of the Bay Area was proud of the Warriors and their amazing season:
“The Golden State Warriors have been the Bay Area’s basketball team for 50 years, and our City knows that the future holds many great things for them in the years to come. Congratulations to a remarkable Warriors team, the entire Golden State Warriors organization and the many fans in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. GO WARRIORS!”
The home loss to seal elimination marks the first time the Warriors have lost a playoff series at home since 1994. … The Spurs took a 16-15 lead with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter. They never trailed again. … San Antonio finished with all five starters in double figures for the first time this series, with starters accounting for 73 of the Spurs’ 94 points. … Curry finished with a career franchise playoff-high 44 three-pointers. … Barnes finished the playoffs averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds, the first rookie to average at least 16 points and 6 rebounds in 10-plus playoff games since David Robinson in 1990.