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OAKLAND - The Warriors held a shootaround in downtown Oakland on Monday morning, working up a light sweat before answering the bell for Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.

After that mini-practice, I asked Draymond Green about guarding San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge. The second prong of the question was admittedly blunt. I asked Green whether the Spurs had enough offensive firepower to challenge the Warriors if Aldridge were held in check.

Here’s what Green had to say on the matter: “Obviously with Kawhi (Leonard) out, he’s their No. 1 option. You can take someone’s No. 1 out — or not even necessarily take him out, but just make things tough on him — and it makes things tough on everyone else. That’s with any team. … We’ve just gotta continue to play aggressive, be aggressive with him, mix up our coverages, just try to make him take tough shots.”

It was a good half-answer from someone who didn’t want to disrespect the Spurs’ secondary players. But about 10 hours later, we got the full reply. Because actions still speak louder than words.

We now know the non- Aldridge Spurs are incapable of carrying this best-of-seven series. Because Aldridge was sensational Monday. And in the end, it didn’t matter. His teammates didn’t do enough to fill out the borders of the picture, and the Warriors won 116-101 to go up 2-0.

First, an appreciation of Aldridge. He used to be a great young player in Portland. But he seemed lost after going to San Antonio. Last year, he stumbled around in Leonard’s shadow, looking passive and uncertain. After Leonard exited last year’s Western Conference finals with a reinjured ankle, the Spurs desperately needed Aldridge to pick up the slack. But he became the slack. He never asserted himself, and the Warriors swept the series.

Aldridge has been a new man this season, though. Before the campaign began, he requested a trade, saying he felt out of place in Gregg Popovich’s offense. He and the coach cleared the air, and Popovich, to his credit, admitted that he had been using Aldridge incorrectly, trying to move him around the court like a chess piece rather than allowing him to do what he does best — put his back to the basket and wriggle or muscle past defenders for points inside. Aldridge wound up averaging 23.1 points in the regular season.

And he battered the Warriors on Monday. Center JaVale McGee had done a number on Aldridge in Game 1. This time, Aldridge proved it was a mirage. And things didn’t go much better when Green, Kevon Looney or David West drew the defensive assignment.

Aldridge was close to unstoppable against all of them. He finished with 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting, to go along with 12 rebounds. He got most of the Golden State frontline in some degree of foul trouble, and hit all 12 of his free throws.

After the game, the crusty Popovich couldn’t hide his admiration.

“LaMarcus has been a monster all year long,” the coach said. “He’s led our team at both ends of floor. He doesn’t complain about a darn thing on the court. He plays through everything. I can’t imagine being more proud of a player, as far as playing through adversity and being there for his teammates night after night after night. He’s been fantastic.”

Think some of that message might have been aimed at Leonard, who has missed nearly the entire season on the advice of his personal doctors?

Popovich’s counterpart, Steve Kerr, said the Spurs did a good job of reacting to Golden State’s defensive sets in Game 2, adding that the visitors attacked more aggressively. Aldridge was both the main beneficiary and the primary annoyance.

“We’re going to have to look at that and reevaluate how we’re going to guard them,” Kerr said. “He’s a load. I mean, I’ve said it many times: I think he’s the best low-post scorer in the NBA now. What makes him tough is that he can also step outside and hit the jumper.”

But the alphabetical list of viable scorers wearing white uniforms in Game 2 didn’t go past the A’s. It was pretty much Aldridge or bust.

Popovich inserted veteran Rudy Gay into the starting lineup for Game 2 specifically to add some scoring punch, and Gay did a good job of it in the first half, with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Gay drifted off to some faraway place in the second half, though, and added just two points over the final 24 minutes. Ancient forward Pau Gasol had some moments, too, and also finished with 12 points.

Most of the other Spurs were missing in action, though. Danny Green, reportedly an NBA starter, hit none of his three shots and went scoreless for the entire game. Manu Ginobili may still be crafty, but his legs are going at age 40; he was 0 for 3 on 3-point attempts. Starter Dejounte Murray had four points. Davis Bertans made 1 of 7 shots, Tony Parker 1 of 3, Kyle Anderson 0 of 2, Bryn Forbes 0 of 3.

The most obvious underperformer was Patty Mills, the former St. Mary’s star. His final numbers were pretty good — he hit 7 of 16 shots for 21 points. But Mills was 2 of 10 in the first half, and 2 of 7 from 3-point range. He heated up only after the Warriors had begun to build a lead. Mills’ early inaccuracy doomed the Spurs, because they were working so hard to get him open. They set screen after screen for the Aussie, much like the Warriors do for Stephen Curry when he’s healthy. Mills got open looks. He simply failed to convert them.

All told, the Spurs connected on 4 of their 28 3-point attempts. No one has ever confused these guys for The Curry and Klay Show. But they had to drill a few of those long-distance shots to keep the Warriors honest, and they did no such thing. It was Aldridge Island, and the seas eventually swamped its shores.

Aldridge kept pushing his way inside, kept fighting, kept scoring. But he wasn’t strong enough to carry 12 grown men on his shoulders.

The end result is a cautionary tale for the Spurs and their fans. They now return to San Antonio, where they are a much better team. Aldridge may well score 40 points on his home court. In which case his team might lose by only six or seven points.

With Leonard missing, the Spurs have one great player. And that won’t be enough to beat the streaking Warriors.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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