Defense key as Warriors try to avoid elimination 

click to enlarge San Antonio Spurs' Tracy McGrady, right, and Golden State Warriors' Richard Jefferson, chase a loose ball during the second half of Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in San Antonio. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Associated Press
  • San Antonio Spurs' Tracy McGrady, right, and Golden State Warriors' Richard Jefferson, chase a loose ball during the second half of Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 14, 2013, in San Antonio.

The Warriors’ offense was not good in their loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday. In past years, that was all previous Warriors teams had to rely on to win games.

Now, however, the poor shooting nights by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson — who played exceptionally well in the first two games of the series — was not what coach Mark Jackson wanted to focus on heading into the team’s first elimination game of the postseason.

“It’s a four-point game in the third quarter,” he said of Tuesday’s game. “They shot 72 percent in the first quarter and scored 37 points. That has nothing to do with Klay Thompson or Steph Curry shooting the basketball. That’s a recipe for disaster and that put us in a hole.”

The defense has hinged on Andrew Bogut, who has been a big Australian anchor in the middle since getting healthy near the end of the regular season and picking up the rebounding slack left by the absence of David Lee, who has played sparingly since injuring his hip in the first game of the first round of playoffs.

Bogut was asked three times about the condition of the ankle that caused him to miss much of the regular season, offering the same answer each time before deciding to make it clear that is the answer any further questions would get.

“The ankle’s fine,” he said. “If anyone wants to ask another question about the ankle, the ankle’s fine.”

Whether Bogut’s ankle is truly “fine,” the center’s answer holds up with Jackson’s image of a “no-excuse basketball team,” a phrase he has used over and over throughout the year.

Bogut’s defense has been a major reason Tim Duncan has been held to just over 40 percent from the field in the series, including a 7-for-22 outing in Game 4, an overtime win for the Warriors. The next time out, it was point guard Tony Parker who lit it up offensively, something Bogut said will be a focus as they plan for tonight’s game.

“He got to the paint and was knocking down the midrange jump shot,” he said of Parker’s performance in Game 5. “When he’s got both of those things going, he’s very tough to guard. He puts a lot of pressure on me and a lot of pressure on our big guys. We’ve got to do a better job of getting to him earlier and trying to make other guys make plays.”

Stopping Parker and the rest of the Spurs will need to start tonight, as the Warriors try to force a Game 7 and a keep alive their hopes of making the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1976.

bmartin@sfexaminer.com

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