The Golden State Warriors were the stars of the party in San Antonio on Saturday (all times AEDT), cruising to a 144-113 NBA victory over the Spurs before a record crowd at the Alamodome.
Jordan Poole led the defending champion Warriors with 25 points off the bench, and Donte DiVincenzo added 22 as Golden State’s reserves came up big.
They weren’t the names that attracted a raucous crowd of 68,323 to the Alamodome – the Spurs’ home from 1993 to 2002 before their move to the AT&T Center arena.
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But that hardly mattered as fans celebrated both teams and the sheer size of the crowd — which shattered the previous record attendance for a regular-season NBA game of 62,046 for a showdown between Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.
The Spurs played the game at their old home as part of the celebrations of the franchise’s 50th anniversary season.
Old-school Spurs fans relished a chance to return to the ‘Dome, but plenty of those in the crowd were drawn by Warriors star Stephen Curry and his teammates.
Curry scored 15 points on six-of-12 shooting. Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins had 16 apiece as eight Warriors players scored in double figures.
It was a morale-boosting away win for the Warriors, who have struggled mightily on the road this season.
And it was an emotional night for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played four seasons in San Antonio and won two titles with the Spurs.
“Just the presentation of the game was spectacular,” said Kerr, who received a huge cheer before the game.
“To get an ovation from 68,000 fans gives you chills,” Kerr said. “Tonight was a great display of how special the Spurs are and how special San Antonio is.”
Curry called the atmosphere “amazing,” as did Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who said he advised his young team “just to play the game and not worry about everything else.”
Tre Jones led the Spurs with 21 points, and five San Antonio players scored in double figures. But Golden State led by five after the first quarter and never looked back.
The Utah Jazz held off a late run from the Orlando Magic, winning 112-108 including Lauri Markkanen blocking Franz Wagner’s potential game-tying three with 4.2 left.
Markkanen racked up 28 points and 12 rebounds and Jordan Clarkson dropped 23 points and 12 assists – scoring or assisting on eight of the Jazz’s final 11 points – in the win.
Meanwhile Walker Kessler went off for 13 points, nine rebounds and a career-best seven blocks to undoubtedly cause more angst for the Minnesota Timberwolves after they traded a package featuring the rookie, four first-round picks and pick swap to the Jazz for Rudy Gobert.
It marked Utah’s second-straight win after beating Cleveland to creep closer back to .500 at 22-23.
Wagner posted a team-high 26 points for Orlando, who fell to 16-27.
There was more on-court drama in Indianapolis, where Atlanta’s John Collins tipped in the game-winner with seven-tenths of a second remaining in the Hawks’ 113-111 victory over the Pacers.
Dejounte Murray’s dunk put Atlanta up 108-107 with 2:08 to play. Bennedict Mathurin answered with a basket that gave the Pacers the lead with 58 seconds remaining.
Mathurin was fouled but missed the free throw, and Trae Young drained a three-pointer for Atlanta before two free throws from Indiana’s Buddy Hield knotted the score at 111-111 with 21.5 seconds to play.
There were 2.1 seconds on the clock when Murray managed to corral a miss from Young but couldn’t get his own basket to drop. Collins grabbed that rebound and made the put-back basket – just his second of the night – for the win.
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Young led the Hawks with 26 points and De’Andre Hunter added 25. Indiana was led by 26 points from Mathurin.
New York point guard Jalen Brunson continued his recent strong form, scoring 34 points — including four free throws in the final 14 seconds – in a 112-108 Knicks victory over the Wizards in Washington.
Julius Randle added 23 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who withstood a 40-point performance from Washington’s Kyle Kuzma.
In Detroit, New Orleans center Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers with 33 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 116-110 victory over the Pistons.
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards scored 31 to power the Timberwolves to a 121-116 home victory over a Phoenix Suns team missing Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
PELICANS 116 PISTONS 110
HAWKS 113 PACERS 111
KNICKS 112 WIZARDS 108
WARRIORS 144 SPURS 113
THUNDER 124 BULLS 110
SUNS 116 TIMBERWOLVES 121
MAGIC 108 JAZZ 112
NUGGETS 115 CLIPPERS 103
ROCKETS 114 KINGS 139