SAN ANTONIO — Finally faced with "the real NBA," the Golden State Warriors are playing short-handed and having a hard time.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 18 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs fended off a late rally to beat Golden State 104-92 on Sunday night, extending the Warriors' skid to three games.
The two-time defending NBA champions are 2-5 since an eight-game winning streak.
"We've had such a charmed existence the last four seasons. So, of course, this is the toughest stretch we've been in," coach Steve Kerr said. "This is the real NBA. We haven't been in the real NBA the last few years. We've been in this dream. So, now we're faced with real adversity. We've got to get out of it ourselves."
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green went down with injuries during the recent dry spell, but the biggest setback was self-inflicted. Green and Kevin Durant had a blowup at the close of regulation in a 121-116 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last Monday. Green's tirades on the bench and in the postgame locker room led the team to hand the seventh-year forward a one-game suspension.
The flare-up and the Warriors' inability to move past it spiritually has confounded Kerr.
"Just play with joy. It's always been about just our emotion," Durant said, describing how Kerr has encouraged his club. "He's always been big about that. He's just trying to get that joy back."
There wasn't much joy to be found in San Antonio.
DeMar DeRozan had 20 points and nine assists and Rudy Gay added 19 points to help the Spurs snap a three-game slide.
"We needed that one," Gay said. "It was a hard-fought win for us. That's a team that needed this one, too, so it really was an uphill battle for us and good test for us."
Aldridge provided a needed boost, shooting 10 for 16 in scoring 20-plus points for the first time since Nov. 10.
"He's been aggressive, especially on the boards," DeRozan said. "Tonight he got a couple shots to go in for him. A couple of his turnarounds went in, and you know that rhythm is going to continue to come. As long as he just goes out there, plays aggressive, lets the game come to him, he's going to continue to have big nights like tonight."
Durant scored 26 points and Klay Thompson had 25 for the Warriors.
Golden State was without Curry and Green again, and their absence led to a cold start. Three nights after being held to a season-low output in a 107-86 loss at Houston, the Warriors nearly matched that dubious mark.
They missed all six 3-point attempts in the first quarter as San Antonio jumped out to a 33-27 lead. Gay scored 12 points in the opening period.
"He is somebody that we have gone to at certain times in the game and that always gives players confidence," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
San Antonio also frustrated the Warriors on offense for much of the game. After quickly regaining an errant pass on their end of the court in the third quarter, Durant passed up a 3-pointer to fire a pass in the lane to Damian Jones only to have Gay stuff him at the rim.
San Antonio finished with five blocked shots.
Golden State's lone lead came when Andre Iguodala made two free throws to put the Warriors ahead 46-45 with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter. The lead lasted a minute as the Spurs closed the first half on an 11-2 run.
Warriors: Curry, the two-time MVP, missed his sixth straight game with a strained left groin. Golden State is 2-4 without him. ... Green missed his second consecutive game with a strained right toe. ... Kerr got a technical foul 47 seconds into the second quarter after protesting a foul on Jonas Jerebko. ... Durant was called for a technical after complaining about a non-call on his first field goal attempt of the second half.
Spurs: San Antonio has had a winning record for 3,355 days since 1997, most of any team in the league. Dallas is second at 2,407, followed by Houston with 2,340. . Aldridge has 202 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since 2006. LeBron James has 203 such games during that same span. ... Pau Gasol missed his sixth straight game with a sore left foot. ... Davis Bertans sat out as he remains in the league's concussion protocol.
PACK A LUNCH
Kerr was asked if he planned to give Golden State a day off Monday following a three-game road trip as it prepares to host Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
No way, he joked.
"They'll have a two-a-day tomorrow," Kerr said. "I'm going back to the old days, Bobby Knight style."
The Warriors are off Monday.
NOT SO BAD
DeRozan experienced his first slump with the Spurs since joining the team in an offseason trade from Toronto. Popovich's attitude during the skid left DeRozan a bit surprised.
"He was more patient than I expected," DeRozan said. "But like I said, we all have that feeling of understanding a lot of things are new. I know we keep saying it, but we're definitely making progress when we're going out there and playing. Very aggressive. We all want the same thing; we're all cheering for one another. It's just once we're more consistent with things defensively, you'll start to see games like tonight happen more often."
Warriors: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.
Spurs: At New Orleans on Monday night.