Gregg Popovich knocks Spurs for 'lack of edge, intensity' in Game 2

OAKLAND, Calif. -- While Kawhi Leonard ordered dinner from the team hotel, the rest of the San Antonio Spurs choked down a heaping helping of disheartening defeat by way of a 136-100 annihilation at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

The loss dropped the visitors to a 2-0 deficit in the Western Conference finals and led coach Gregg Popovich to question his squad's fortitude.

"The only way I can process this is it's not about O's and X's, rebounds, turnovers or anything like that," Popovich said. "Kawhi being gone, I don't think as I watched ... I don't think they believed. And you have to believe. I don't think as a group they really did, which means probably a little bit of feeling sorry for themselves psychologically, subconsciously, whatever psycho-babble word you want to use. I don't think they started the game with a belief, and it showed in the lack of edge, intensity, grunt, all that sort of thing. That was disappointing."

The question now is whether Leonard can help salvage this 2-0 mess, which could have been a hotly contested 1-1 series at this point, had the Spurs found a way to hold on in Game 1, when the star forward left a contest San Antonio led by as many as 25 points after aggravating an ankle injury.

Since the moment Leonard limped off the court with an arm around head athletic trainer Will Sevening with 7:54 remaining in the third quarter of Game 1, the Spurs have been outscored 194-133 by the Warriors. The Spurs led by 23 when Leonard left Game 1.

Since Leonard's departure, the Spurs have shot 37 percent, including 8-for-30 from 3-point range, while Golden State is nailing 57 percent of its field goals, including going 24-for-54 from deep.

Shooting guard Danny Green said he thought the Spurs believed they could win once the ball was tipped but admitted, "then things started rolling the wrong direction, and that changed."

With the Warriors leading 2-0, they have a 92 percent chance to win the series and a 25 percent chance to sweep it, according to BPI.

"We blew a great opportunity in Game 1, and it was turnovers," Popovich said. "You know, 31 points on turnovers is not a good thing. On the board, we were very passive, especially down the stretch, when we could have sealed it away, and we didn't do that. Those were the two concerns after Game 1."

Heading into Game 2, Popovich used the team's media availability Monday in San Francisco to rail on Zaza Pachulia for his part in pushing the Spurs into this predicament. Leonard's availability for Game 3 remains in question in part because the play on which the injury occurred involved the Warriors center. But the coach's biting comments seemed more a ploy to motivate the rest of the squad to pick up the pieces and perform in Leonard's absence.

That move skipped off the rim like the majority of San Antonio's shots in this loss, with Popovich calling the Spurs' failure "pretty collective." In fact, Popovich said second-year guard Jonathon Simmons might have been the only Spur who "came to play." Filling in for Leonard at small forward, Simmons led the Spurs with 22 points.

"Jon was in a category by himself," Popovich said. "Everybody else was in the other category."

Apparently, that's where San Antonio's $84 million complement to Leonard -- LaMarcus Aldridge -- fit. The power forward shot 4-for-11 for eight points in 27 minutes, after hitting 7-of-11 for 17 points in the first half of Game 1.

"LaMarcus has to score for us. He can't be timid," Popovich said. "He turned down shots in the first quarter. He can't do it. You've got to score. Scoring has to come from someplace. I think he's got a major responsibility in Game 3 to come out and get something done, whether it's for himself or his teammates."

Aldridge attributed his shoddy performance to taking "the wrong approach." Aldridge shot 1-for-4 with two points on post-ups in four plays in Game 2. He had been averaging 9.7 post-up plays per game in his previous three outings, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"I watched the end of last game, and I saw how they were doubling and they were trying to crowd me," Aldridge said. "So I thought I would come out and try to move the ball. But I ended up taking myself out of rhythm and out of the flow of the game. But I'll be better. I just wanted to try to take advantage of the digging on me and doubling in the baseline and doubling from the middle too. At times there were three guys there. But I took myself out of it. It won't happen again."

The Spurs now trail 2-0 in a playoff series for just the sixth time under Popovich. On the previous five occasions, San Antonio won only one of those series -- the 2008 conference semifinals against New Orleans, then known as the Hornets.

Simmons mentioned that despite the lopsided loss and the potential absence of Leonard for Game 3, the Spurs "should still come with that fire, regardless of what happened. We should come out and be prepared to take our home floor, just like they did."

Even though Leonard's MRI results Monday revealed no structural damage, according to sources, the forward's availability remains perhaps the team's most significant concern heading into Game 3. The Spurs don't host Golden State until Saturday, which buys a little extra time for Leonard's sore ankle to heal.

Still, Popovich expects that the Spurs will list Leonard as questionable for that game.

The coach admitted "the thing that worries me is that he did it again [in Game 1], the exact same thing. So one would logically think maybe it will take longer, but I'm hoping that's not true and we'll have him for Game 3."