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Spurs take advantage of short-handed Warriors, avoid Golden State regular-season sweep

From ESPN - March 19, 2018

SAN ANTONIO -- Manu Ginobili flipped his palms up toward the ceiling and shrugged at the suggestion the Spurs might feel sympathy for the banged-up Golden State Warriors.

"Nobody does when we have injuries," he said.

Taking advantage of a depleted squad missing its three biggest stars in Stephen Curry (right ankle), Kevin Durant (ribs), and Klay Thompson (fractured thumb), the Spurs (41-30) fought off a late Warriors rally with a 20-4 fourth-quarter run to capture a much-needed 89-75 win Monday night to move into fifth in the Western Conference standings. To make matters worse for Golden State (53-18), it lost yet another stalwart in Draymond Green, who suffered a pelvic contusion in the second quarter and did not return.

"The Spurs turned it up a notch," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They are fighting for their playoff lives, and they played like it. In that fourth quarter, they picked up full court, and they pressured us all over the place. They were fantastic defensively."

Offensively too, as LaMarcus Aldridge scored all but three of San Antonio's 20 points during the fourth-quarter run to finish with a game-high 33 points and 12 rebounds.

Aldridge has now produced six games this season with 30 or more points and 10 or more rebounds, which is the most for the Spurs since Tim Duncan put together six such performances during the 2004-05 campaign.

"I was just trying to make plays," Aldridge said. "It was a big game for us and we needed to win. The ball found me. My teammates always look for me."

Aldridge poured in 19 of the team's 28 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Warriors 19-12 on 7 of 10 shooting.

Aldridge has scored at least 25 points in three straight games. The last Spur to accomplish that feat was Kawhi Leonard from March to April in 2017.

"He's great and has been great all year. On the offensive glass, coming up big offensively and making buckets and drawing fouls," San Antonio guard Danny Green said. "Also blocking some shots. He was a rim protector tonight and started that fourth quarter for us. L.A. obviously did what he does, but he also found the open guy and made the right play, which was big for us tonight. Without him, it could be very ugly."

The win over the Warriors marks the Spurs' first four-game winning streak since early December.

"I guess we lost enough that we got tired of it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So they have shown a lot more activity just in general, a lot more communication, and activity in the last four games. That's what we did for most of the year, except for that stretch of 10, 11 games. And we have gotten that back. So hopefully, it will continue."

The bottom four teams of the top eight in the West now sit within one game of one another in the loss column.

The Spurs had lost three consecutive games against the Warriors in which they led at halftime, and they seemed destined for a similar fate in this matchup.

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