Warriors look to keep Spurs reeling
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors hope to add to the San Antonio Spurs' recent miseries when the Western Conference rivals meet in a nationally televised contest Thursday night.
The Spurs arrive in Northern California having lost six of eight, putting an amazing streak in jeopardy.
San Antonio (37-27) needs to win 13 of its final 18 games to reach 50 victories for the 19th consecutive season.
The Warriors (50-14) assured themselves a fifth straight 50-win season with Tuesday's 114-101 home win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Currently, the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers share the distinction of having the second-longest run of 50-win seasons with five.
The Spurs aren't just struggling to get to 50 wins. Their run of 20 straight postseason appearances, which includes five championships, suddenly is at risk as the recent losing stretch dropped San Antonio within two losses of ninth place in the West.
Even in Monday's 100-98 home win over Memphis, things didn't go smoothly for the Spurs. Pau Gasol collided with his brother, Grizzlies center Marc, and injured his shoulder.
The veteran did not practice on Wednesday and has been ruled out of Thursday's game.
The prognosis wasn't as bleak for veteran forward Rudy Gay, who suffered a scary injury in the Memphis game when he damaged his left eardrum.
However, he is expected to play against the Warriors.
The Spurs did receive some good news Wednesday when star Kawhi Leonard informed reporters that his injured quad is feeling better and he expects to be back in action as early as the end of the month.
"(The pain) is diminishing," he claimed. "It's hard to explain, but I'm definitely better. I feel better, and I'm feeling more comfortable."
The Spurs figure to need all other available hands on deck with Gasol and Leonard out. They've suffered 20 and 17-point losses to the Warriors without Leonard already this season.
Golden State finds itself battling Houston for the top spot in the West. Both teams won their 50th game Tuesday, with the Rockets doing so a few hours earlier at Oklahoma City.
The Warriors have won six in a row since the All-Star break, even if Tuesday's victory over the Nets wasn't overly impressive.
Despite a 25-0 run, the second-longest in the NBA this season, that produced a 21-point lead, the Warriors trailed the Nets at halftime.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr thought the absence of veteran backup David West, a former Spur, was a factor in his team squandering the big lead.
"David's absence affected our rotation," Kerr said of West, who had a cyst removed from his right arm but is expected back for the San Antonio game.
"The second unit that I played to start the second quarter was not a group that I have played a whole lot together this year maybe not ever. Maybe I'm letting them off the hook because they have to make better decisions with the ball, but we rely on David quite a bit with that group and we run a lot of stuff through him. I just felt like we were out of sorts with that group right from the beginning."
A big difference in the first two meetings between the teams this season has been Klay Thompson. He's led the Warriors in scoring in both games with 27 and 25 points, hitting 21 of his 31 shots, including 10 of 14 on 3-pointers.
The clubs will duel once more in the regular season on March 19 in San Antonio.
Updated March 7, 2018