In what was supposed to be a matchup to see the new look Suns matchup with a team that ran up and down even more than they did, I was a little disappointed. Shaq was stuck in foul trouble for most of the game totaling just 14 minutes through 3 quarters and sitting the entire 4th. But even without The Diesel, this was an entertaining ballgame with a playoff-like atmosphere. As a basketball fan, it's tough to ask for much more. Well maybe a little more defense, but hey, I love me some scoring.
More after the jump.
Sucks to be Austin
Sucks even more to be Austin
Shaq the Hack
Were the Warriors too quick for Shaq tonight and that's why he picked up all those fouls? Maybe but I know this, all those fouls probably helped the Suns win the game. Not having him out there let them play like they're used to playing - fast. The floor was wide open. They threw outlets up the floor for easy buckets, launched from 3 with no conscience, and let Steve Nash operate in the lane with nobody clogging it up. If the Suns can prove they can handle uptempo teams, half-court teams, and everything in between, the trade may have worked out. I'm still not a believer, but they have just knocked off the Spurs and Warriors.
Baron was, in a word, spectacular. He brought his A+ game on offense and left it all on the floor. He poured in 38 points shooting a hot 15-30 and 6-11 from long distance. He added 9 boards and 8 assists along with 3 steals. I say A+ on offense because his defense left something to be desired. But he wasn't the only one on defense who didn't play all out. I'm not going to get on his defense though because he played his butt off tonight and this game is a blowout without Baron scoring like crazy.
No Help for Baron
Where were the key guys other than Baron? The two guys who I thought might be able to exploit Shaq, Al and Beans, were nowhere to be found. Can you say, milk carton? Al hit on just 4-11 shots and never found a groove from the outside. Biedrins got into foul trouble and was never really a factor.
It's no fun for me to write this because he's been playing so amazing of late, but Monta's poor shooting night came at the exact wrong time. He shot 8-22 (36%), way down from his normal 85% from the field. I appreciate the 8 boards and 4 assists but he seemed to disappear in the 2nd half. He had trouble hitting his mid-range jumper tonight perhaps struggling to shoot over the longer arms of the Suns. I'll chalk this one up to just an off-shooting night, but we sure could have used a typical efficient night from Monta.
Now seriously, where was Stephen Jackson? 4-13 from the field? How can he be so cold in the Valley of the Sun?
The lights were shining bright, the entire nation watching, and of all the usual suspects only Baron came to play.
Two Nice Surprises
Mickael Pietrus and Kelenna Azubuike. MP2 started and gave a nice effort tonight with 16 points and 8 rebounds. He's even playing better defensively and the mental errors only happen 10 times a game, not 25. That's all I'm going to write because I don't want to jinx it. Kelenna played well tonight off the bench - actually the only guy who played well of the bench. 10 points, 7 boards is solid play in just 20 minutes.
Back to Back? Whateva
Blame the loss on the back to back? Naw. If your leader, the guy who plays the most minutes on the squad, Baron Davis, can come out and play a great game, you would expect some of the other guys to step up. Except for Pietrus and Kelenna off the bench, where was the help? This was a big game for the Warriors not only because they were on national tv but because a win puts them 3 games in front of Denver and only 0.5 behind Phoenix. The Warriors have shown they can win the 2nd of a back to back so I don't think the back to back is an excuse.
One Big Run
The Suns were up by a few points in the 3rd quarter and the game seemed to be going back and forth. Then BAM, the Suns roll off a 10-0 run towards the end of the quarter to propel them to a 14 point lead. That was the big turning point in the game because the Warriors had to keep scratching and clawing their way back in the game. They had to fight hard just to get the game under double digits. They'd make a run but the Suns always seemed to answer with one of their own. After the Suns opened up this lead, the Warriors hung around, but never really got back in it.
Too Much Amare
Man this guy is nasty. Dwight Howard or Amare? I don't know who I'd take but I for damn sure wouldn't mind making that decision if I was a GM. Amare, as expected, tore it up. His 36 points offset Baron's scoring. Even more impressive is the 62% he shot from the field. I guess when half your shots are dunks, you'll shoot well. He also had 11 boards, but his best stat of the night were the 4 blocks. And he really saved some buckets with those blocks. He got a couple blocks on layups by the Warriors. That 10-0 run in the 3rd was prolonged because he got a block and then outletted it down the court for a bucket. His defense was very good tonight, something that usually doesn't happen. If he can keep up a consistent effort on defense, he's going to be even scarier.
How about a little defense?
Check this out, the Suns shot 50% from the field and 12-24 (50%) from 3! Those are numbers I want to see from the Warriors. When you shoot that well, there's no reason for you to lose the game. But Warrior fans, take solace in the fact that the Suns shot the lights out, the Warriors didn't shoot well, and the game was still close. Heck the Warriors led for part of the 3rd quarter. It just eventually caught up to them and they couldn't hold back the Suns' offensive onslaught. Simply put, the Suns made more shots (45 to 43) on 23 less attempts. You do the math.
Not enough stops
In the closing minutes of the 4th, the Warriors just couldn't get enough stops. While the Warriors continued to score, so did the Suns. Trading baskets just doesn't get it done. So, as always, the Warriors win or lose based on their ability to play defense. We all know they're going to score, but if they don't bring it consistently and with enough energy on defense, they will struggle to win.
I'm disappointed the Warriors didn't win because they really could have capitalized on tonight and altered the standings a bit. After 3 games against sub-.500 teams (Memphis, Sac, Clips), the Warriors go on a ROUGH stretch of games. Houston, Lakers, Lakers, Portland, Denver, Dallas, San Antonio, and then Dallas. Are you kidding me? Who are the schedule makers and why didn't they spread these teams out against the cupcakes the Warriors have been playing. Oy. That stretch may not make the season, but it could definitely break it. The Warriors NEED to win all 3 against the Grizz, Kings, and Clips to give them a little room for error against the West elite. Heh, at least we're done with Utah.
On national tv, against the Suns, was there any doubt BD would be the Warrior Wonder?