Last season, it took the Golden State Warriors 25 games to drop their first contest.
This year, 48 minutes did the trick.
Even though the Warriors entered Tuesday night engulfed in hype facilitated by Kevin Durant's free-agent arrival, the San Antonio Spurs bested the defending Western Conference champions, 129-100, at Oracle Arena in both teams' season opener.
Kawhi Leonard was sensational in the wire-to-wire rout with a career-high 35 points on 10-of-21 shooting and a perfect 15-of-15 night from the charity stripe, five rebounds and five steals. He routinely thrashed Golden State's defense with composed shot-making, as NBA TV documented:
Assisting Leonard in the onslaught were LaMarcus Aldridge and Jonathon Simmons, each of whom stuffed the stat sheet with aplomb.
Aldridge roasted the Warriors with 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting and 14 rebounds (eight offensive). He only had two games with at least 26 points and 14 boards last season, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
The breakout star, though, was Simmons.
In 28 minutes off the bench, the second-year pro poured in a career-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting (3-of-5 from three). He also provided the game's signature moment with a block of Stephen Curry that would have made LeBron James proud:
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Conversely, the Warriors struggled to flash vintage form on offense.
Durant was solid in his Golden State debut with 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting and 10 rebounds, and Curry netted 26 points on a respectable 50 percent shooting from the field. However, Curry missed seven of his 10 three-point attempts, while Klay Thompson converted just one of his six long-range looks.
All told, Golden State shot 46.5 percent from the field, 21.2 percent from three and committed 16 turnovers.
While the Warriors attempted to work out the kinks in their retooled offense, the Spurs attacked their floundering defense from all angles.
Leonard filled it up to the tune of 18 first-half points, and he had plenty of help from Aldridge and Simmons as the Warriors consistently displayed lazy tendencies on both ends of the floor that allowed the Spurs to snatch a double-digit lead.
Aldridge dropped 12 points in his first 19 minutes, and he turned heads with a silky turnaround fadeaway over Draymond Green (who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals) when the Warriors went small and attempted to blitz the Spurs with speed, as the NBA showed on Twitter:
Compounding matters was the way in which Golden State's offense functioned.
Although Curry and Durant dropped 18 and 14 points, respectively, in the first half, the Warriors committed nine turnovers and shot 4-of-19 from three as they fell behind by 18 at halftime.
ESPN's Michael C. Wright relayed a tidbit from ESPN Stats & Info that exemplified just how off the Warriors were at one point during the second quarter:
At that point, some questions had to be asked:
But as the Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson astutely noted, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr likely found a way to turn the slow start into a teaching moment:
Golden State opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the Spurs' lead to 12, but San Antonio withstood the small flurry and pushed its lead to as many as 20 points as the Warriors continued to struggle defensively, according to the San Antonio Express-News' Jeff McDonald:
However, losing to the Spurs is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Warriors would have undoubtedly loved to open the season with a statement win that showcased their unprecedented firepower, but it's unfair to expect instant greatness given how many pieces they shuffled during the offseason.
Now with a sense of where they stand and how they can improve at this early juncture in the season, the Warriors should be able to use Tuesday's loss as a source of motivation moving forward as they prepare for the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday evening.
The Spurs will have Wednesday off to reflect on their dominant outing, but a high-energy clash with the Sacramento Kings in the first game ever at Golden 1 Center awaits Thursday.
With the win in hand, Simmons discussed his breakout effort with the NBA’s official Twitter account:
Likewise, Manu Ginobili heaped praise on Simmons during his postgame meeting with reporters, per the San Antonio Express-News’ Jabari Young:
"I think our guys were embarrassed (by the performance) tonight," Kerr said, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. "I know I was."
Kerr also took responsibility for the loss.
"I didn't have them ready to play, obviously,” he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau.
"It was a slap in the face,” Durant said of the loss, per Thompson. "Woke us up a bit."
"It's a long season," Klay Thompson said, according to the team’s official Twitter account. "It's not the end of the world. We're going to get better from [this]."