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Spurs go Green in win over Warriors

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OAKLAND, Calif. — On a night when his primary focus was on stalling Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green was the offensive difference-maker on Saturday night.

Such is the brilliance of the Spurs: If you think you can beat them one way, they find another way to succeed.

Terrific all night on the defensive end, Green hit two 3-pointers during an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter that broke open a tight game as the Spurs ran their winning streak to 13 with a 99-90 victory over the Warriors.

In a game matching the two teams with the most wins since the All-Star break, the Spurs (53-16) improved the NBA’s best record while completing a three-game road sweep of California teams despite playing without power forward Tim Duncan and backup swingman Manu Ginobili, both given the night off by coach Gregg Popovich.

“Everybody steps up when somebody’s not playing,” said Spurs point guard Tony Parker, the team’s leading scorer with 20 points. “We trust everybody.”

Green was trusted to shadow Curry, who entered the game on a roll. The All-Star had averaged 29.5 points in his previous four games, burying 17 of 33 3-point shots along the way.

But Green did what he was instructed to do — challenge Curry at the 3-point line. It resulted in just one 3-pointer in four attempts and just 5-for-13 shooting overall for Curry, who still managed to score 20 points.

“Danny does a good job on the ball,” Popovich explained of his defensive strategy. “He’s been guarding him (Curry) ever since he came into the league.”

And when Green was not chasing Curry, he was eluding the Golden State defense around the 3-point line at the other end of the court. Green was 5 of 9 on 3-pointers. The Spurs made 10 of 28 from beyond the arc and outscored the Warriors 30-9 on 3s.

“Definitely, we did a good job defensively,” said Parker, who did his part by limiting Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson to one 3-pointer in three attempts. “It’s hard to hold Golden State under 90 points. Really hard. They have a lot of weapons.”

The Spurs led just 76-74 after Warriors reserve center Jermaine O’Neal hit one of two free throws with 10:16 to go. But San Antonio backup Jeff Ayres got inside the Golden State defense for a hoop and, after an exchange of turnovers, Green nailed a 3-pointer to push the San Antonio advantage to seven.

Small forward Kawhi Leonard made it 83-74 with a layup on the Spurs’ next possession. And after backup guard Patty Mills hit a free throw, Green buried a second 3 to cap the decisive run with San Antonio up 13.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Popovich said. “Their effort with three games in four nights, this late in the season, and back-to-back tonight, was real special. They gave the effort they needed to give and I’m just thrilled for them.”

The Warriors (44-27), who saw a three-game winning streak snapped, made one last push, closing to 89-82 with 4:11 to go after four consecutive free throws by Curry.

But Parker short-circuited the Golden State run with a layup and Green buried another 3, his fifth of the night, and the Warriors never seriously threatened after that.

“They seem to always try to make the right play,” Curry said of the Spurs. “We’ve won big games with some of our main guys out, and they kind of have that same expectation.”

Parker and Green (18) were two of five Spurs to score in double figures. Center Tiago Splitter dominated the middle in Duncan’s absence with a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double. Leonard added 16 points and backup guard Marco Belinelli 15.

Curry had 20 points for the Warriors, who hurt themselves with 18 turnovers that the Spurs turned into 27 points.

“We have to be better,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We went back to times when we made crucial mistakes. This is one team that you can’t do that against because they make you pay the price. The turnovers definitely cost us tonight.”

Thompson added 16 points and power forward David Lee 13 for Golden State, which lost for a third consecutive time to the Spurs this season.

NOTES: The Spurs have a higher winning percentage this season in games without PF Tim Duncan (5-1, .833) than with him in the lineup (48-15, .762). … The Warriors are the only team with a winning record that the Spurs will face in a 19-day stretch that began with games against the Los Angeles Lakers (two), Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings and ends with matchups with the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets (two) and New Orleans Pelicans. … The Warriors made only three 3-pointers in the game, just the third time this season they have been held to three or fewer. … The Warriors do not play again until Friday, a five-day break they hope will allow SF Andre Iguodala to fully recover from the right knee tendinitis that has sidelined him the past three games.