OAKLAND (California) • It is usually not a surprise when the San Antonio Spurs, the National Basketball Association's (NBA) most successful franchise over the past two decades, win a basketball game.
But opening the season without Tim Duncan for the first time in 20 years, and going on the road against the two-time Western Conference champions on a night when the Golden State Warriors were welcoming the addition of Kevin Durant, might have been one of those occasions.
Defying expectations, the Spurs emerged with a blowout victory.
KEVIN DURANT'S FIRST GOLDEN STATE GAME
FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE
Kawhi Leonard poured in a career-best 35 points and LaMarcus Aldridge put together a 26-point, 14-rebound effort on Tuesday, as the Spurs stunned Golden State 129-100 in Durant's regular-season debut for the Warriors.
Jonathon Simmons (20 points), Patty Mills (11) and Manu Ginobili (10) provided double-figure scoring off the bench, helping the Spurs use their own strength in numbers to easily beat the Western representative in the last two NBA Finals.
"I'm just staying ready for my opportunity and taking advantage," said Simmons, a University of Houston product signed by the Spurs last summer after he went undrafted. "Now that I know these guys, it makes it a little easier."
Durant hit 11 of 18 shots en route to 27 points and Stephen Curry totalled 26 points for the Warriors, who won an NBA-record 73 games last season, and did not take their first loss until Dec 12 last year, after a 24-game winning streak to open the season.
"It's a nice slap in the face," Curry said. "Our offence wasn't really an issue. We have to shore up the other end."
Down 18 points at the half, the Warriors crept within 68-58 in the first 3min 4sec of the third period before Leonard and Aldridge took charge, combining for 16 points in an 18-8 burst that set up a comfortable finish.
"He has a green light," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Leonard. "He's making threes or he's driving it. He's just really more confident, more aggressive, more hungry to score than in the past."
Leonard and Aldridge scored 13 points apiece in the third quarter for the Spurs, who set a franchise record of their own with 67 wins last season.
The Warriors were never closer than 20 points in the final period.
"San Antonio were great," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "They played a phenomenal game. We saw their best stuff. That's a great team. That's a team that exposed some of our weaknesses."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE