Ray Ratto

The Warriors turned it on at will. Again.

The Warriors turned it on at will. Again.

Let’s put it this way. It took a lot longer for the San Antonio Spurs to feel the gravitational pull of the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 than Game 1. But it happened anyway, and now the last true adjustment in Gregg Popovich’s arsenal is the fact that Games 3 and 4 will be in Texas – the one place where the present Spurs are still the historical Spurs.

True, geography is a poor substitute for superior talent, roster depth or tactical wizardry, but tactical wizardry only works when the wizard has instruments within arm’s length to make those ideas come alive. Thus, San Antonio is left to rely Thursday and Sunday on the comforts of home – and friendlier rims, and more commodious backgrounds, and supportive fans.

If that’s your idea of an adjustment. And it probably isn’t.

Monday’s 116-101 choke-slam looked a lot like Saturday’s 113-92 throttling, only more condensed. The Spurs started Rudy Gay instead of Kyle Anderson, they double-teamed Kevin Durant and then Klay Thompson and then back again, and crowded whichever of the two wasn’t being doubled. They forced the Warriors into 11 first-half turnovers, and they got an inspired game from LaMarcus Aldridge.

And then the second half happened, just as the whole of Game 1 happened. The Warriors won the second half by precisely the same margin – 21 points – that they won all of Game 1, taking the Spurs’ best competitive instincts and reducing them to a single statistic.

14.3 percent, on 28 three-pointers, to Golden State’s 48.4 (15 of 31).

That 45-12 discrepancy wiped out San Antonio’s 53-47 halftime lead, neutralized the turnover imbalance and reduced San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich to a conciliatory tone that hinted at inevitability. He praised his team’s increased fight and attention to detail, spoke highly of Aldridge (34/12) and Gay, and then headed to the reason why Golden State looks so, well, Golden State-y.

“You gotta make shots,” he said. “It’s been like that all season on the road for whatever reason, and that makes it difficult.”

No, damned near impossible. The Warriors’ starters, which included JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala again, shot 55 percent (34 of 62, 13 of 26 from afar), and the only real failings were 15 turnovers and David West’s tweaked ankle in the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were – well, 63 points’ worth on 39 shots, and metrics only embellish that central truth. The Warriors, if you’ll forgive the narrative whoring, turned it on at will. Again.

“We just met their level of physicality and force,” head coach Steve Kerr said, without referring to tactical changes at all. “They just took it to us the whole first half. They were tremendous defensively . . . so in the second half, we matched their effort level and we were able to get the upper hand.”

And, he omitted to add, close that hand at throat level, taking a worrisome first half for the customers and turning it into a Warriors-standard game.

All that said, the Spurs’ considerable limitations in this series do not preclude them from stealing a game in San Antonio, if such a thing can be said about a team that has won its last 11 home games. Golden State’s oppressive dominance may seem like a return to the good old days, but it still feels more like increased focus combined with a very favorable matchup.

But if we see this game again at AT&T Thursday and/or Sunday, the Warriors may get that smell in their nostrils again and use it as fuel in subsequent rounds. They may just be beating a depleted and inaccurate team whose best player has apparently returned to his home planet for repurposing and perhaps relocation, but the way they are doing it is as nostalgia-inducing as it is breathtaking.

And that has proven over most of the last three years to beat tactics every time.

49ers have made it clear they want Reuben Foster's shadow of doubt to run 120 yards


49ers have made it clear they want Reuben Foster's shadow of doubt to run 120 yards

And so Reuben Foster will be a 49er still – unless the district attorney for Santa Clara County has a lot more unpleasant evidence than either Foster, his accuser, or the 49ers know.

In the wake of Wednesday’s recantation by the woman who originally claimed that Foster beat her in February – a recantation bolstered by her lawyer claiming that there was video of a fight with another woman that the victim now claims was the cause of her injuries – Foster’s employment prospects have dramatically changed for the better.

Not his absolute guilt or innocence. He either beat the woman or he didn’t. This is about his convictability, and that is the standard, if you can call it that, that the 49ers’ hierarchy wants to apply in this case, because it is the highest bar available to them.

Therein lies the flow and direction of this particular undercurrent. A recanting victim diminishes the chances of a conviction, and even though the district attorney’s office claims it will press ahead with a trial with or without her cooperation, the shadow of doubt lengthens in such cases.

And the 49ers through general manager/spokesman John Lynch have made it clear they want the shadow of doubt to run 120 yards. They believe Foster’s version of events because they want to believe Foster. They have had a desired result from the start here, and have applied the most liberal talent/tolerance scale they can in choosing their path.

So questions remain, most of which may never be resolved. Is there video and what is its quality? Does evidence of one fight necessarily preclude the possibility that Foster beat her as well? Why the delay between the time she filed her complaint and her assertion that it was false? Why does the timing – one day before the NFL Draft – seem so hinky?

And finally, is Foster really being framed here, and should/will the woman be punished if that is found to be the case?

We probably will never know that last one, because the standard that will be applied by nearly everyone with an interest will ultimately not be “did he do it” but “will he be convicted of it.” Lynch said that very thing in his last presser on the subject, while saying also, “if he did this, he will no longer be a 49er.” Those are clearly two different standards, because between innocence and guilt stands “not guilty,” which is the equivalent of “not proven.” We would expect the 49ers to do as they have done and choose the highest bar, and then hope it goes away of its own accord.

After all, there has never been a standard by which these things are adjudicated. Innocent-until-proven-guilty has always been superseded by let-the-PR-decide, just as punish-the-guilty has been mitigated by how-important-is-the-defendant-to-the-business. Powerful defendants can hire mighty lawyers and write powerful checks and intimidate victims, and women have found that pressing claims is often a more difficult ordeal than the original incident. And in a few cases (not as many as the men-are-victims-too lobby would have you believe, but some), the plaintiff ought to be the defendant.

So what we know now is very little. What we may learn Monday is that the state either thinks it has an overwhelming case without the victim or will find it too unlikely that it can win at trial. That is the standard being applied to Reuben Foster now, in a murky case that just got murkier.

Sorting through Pete Carroll's latest flirtation with Kaepernick and the Seahawks


Sorting through Pete Carroll's latest flirtation with Kaepernick and the Seahawks

There are any number of ways to sort out Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s latest public flirtation with the concept (as opposed to the actual presence) of Colin Kaepernick on his roster, but they all end the same.

Not a chance in hell. Okay, not much of a chance in hell.

It is a measure of our industrial inability to let go of a seemingly dead storyline that the question was even raised in Carroll’s pre-draft press conference Monday, and even more bizarre that he dangled it as a possibility when all it did was remind people yet again that the National Football League is run by narrow-minded, inflexible and even socially thuggish billionaires.

What it did not to do is make anyone think that (a) this is a football decision upon which Carroll has final say, or that (b) this is an employment decision upon which owner Paul Allen has the only vote that matters.

Now we could end up dead wrong in public here – it has happened before, of course. But Kaepernick is the handy hot button the owners have used to show their fealty to the noisy symbols-above-rights crowd that are taking credit they don’t deserve for the decline in football’s television popularity. It seems unfathomable that they would give that up, or more specifically, to let any of their individual members give that up on their behalf.

At least not without running it through HR.

It could be that the depositions in Kaepernick’s complaint against the league are going badly for the league in a strictly legal sense, though there is no public indication of such. It could be that the dovish win of the owners find this a needless distraction that the league would be better off solving quietly and quickly (if 15 months can be described as quick). It could even be that at his advanced age Allen has decided to put a finger in the eyes of his colleagues just for the sake of seeing them tear up.

But these all seem unlikely. Moreover, Carroll may be trying to pressure his superiors through public discussion to get Kaepernick in for a workout that leads to a job, and that’s not normally a triumphant stratagem.

In short, the smart money is to bet that this is one more red herring in a lake full of them. Colin Kaepernick will be as ex- a football player as he has been, people will re-convince themselves that his future as a player still has value as a talking point of brain-free chat shows, and the hamster wheel will continue to spin.

And in the end, the only good thing to come out of any of it is the number of cranial collisions Kaepernick does not endure by still being that ex-player.