SAN ANTONIO – Playing basketball seemed trivial to the Spurs following the death of Erin Popovich. They competed as best they could Thursday night. It just wasn't enough against Golden State, again.
Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and the Warriors beat San Antonio 110-97 for a 3-0 series lead over the Spurs, who were still reeling from the death of Gregg Popovich's wife.
The Warriors can close the first-round series with a win Sunday afternoon in San Antonio in Game 4.
LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"It was tough, some heavy news and you never wish it on anyone. To have it happen to such a great person and our leader. He's more than a coach, he's close with all of us so to have him have to go through this was tough," said Aldridge. "I thought guys focused and we played. We're just not making shots. We have open shots, but they are just not going in."
"It's hard to think about that for me, personally, right now because there is other stuff bigger than basketball," Spurs veteran Tony Parker said.
The Spurs were playing a day after the death of Erin Popovich, who passed away after battling an undisclosed long-term illness.
Erin and Gregg Popovich were married four decades and have two children and two grandchildren.
San Antonio did not air a video tribute or hold a moment of silence for Erin in an apparent attempt to make the game as routine as possible for its players, but that was impossible.
Coach Popovich was not in his customary position roaming the sidelines, choosing instead to be with his family. San Antonio assistant Ettore Messina coached the team in Popovich's place.
"It was strange tonight looking down the sidelines and not seeing Pop. I spoke with him today and it's a very difficult time," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
Manu Ginobili and Parker said it was tough to play basketball following Erin's passing, but the team's goal was to compete and play with the grit Popovich has always demanded of them.
Parker, who said Erin and Gregg were a mother and father to him when he entered the league as a 19-year-old, lived up to those wishes. Parker, who averaged 2.0 points in the first two games, finished with 16 points in 17 minutes.
The Spurs had an emotional start, but could not sustain it against the talented Warriors.
"This was about what I expected," Kerr said. "First half they were getting after us like they did in Game 2 and we stayed with it, we had some bursts. The whole point is take care of the ball and defend over 48 minutes and things should work out."
Already on the edge of their seats for the first home game of the playoffs, fans erupted when Rudy Gay threw down a one-handed dunk over Golden State's JaVale McGee. The cheering was nearly constant as the Spurs scored the game's first six points before the Warriors began to settle in.
"When they scored first the crowd was one of the loudest I've ever been a part of, the crowd gave those guys tremendous energy. Those guys were playing for something more," said Quinn Cook, who scored 12 points off the bench.
Durant and Klay Thompson shot down San Antonio's chances. Thompson added 19 points, including 3-for-6 shooting on 3s.
"They set the tone, they have been physical all series," said Thompson. "The talent might not match ours but their physicality is going to match ours. We don't shy away from it but they definitely make it tough on us."
Tough, but not enough. Spurs guard Danny Green admitted after the game it's been a tough year.
"We're obviously competing and fighting, but it's a basketball game," Green said. "There are bigger things going on in life."
Danny Green post #Spurs #Warriors G3, talks emotional 24 hrs, puts game in perspective, said Erin Popovich was a joy and 'had a presence, you guys are intimidated by Pop, probably scared of him, but her presence was probably the total opposite'...added 'we've had a tough year' pic.twitter.com/4H9En0KyTx— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 20, 2018