Recap #5: Phoenix Suns 102, Golden State Warriors 91 - Steve Nash Outplays Stephen Curry (Foul Trouble), David Lee's Empty Rebounds?

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Monta Ellis returned to Phoenix after attending his grandmother's funeral, but David Lee was out ill. Stephen Curry, who finished with just 10 points, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers in only 23 minutes of play, got into foul trouble trying to guard Steve Nash, who eventually iced the game late with a trey, along with Jared Dudley's trey. Nash finished with 21 points and 9 assists, going 9-for-13 from the field and curiously, Mark Jackson opted for Charles Jenkins off the bench at the point instead of Ish Smith. Monta ended with 18 points on 16 attempts and dished out 11 assists.

Hit the jump for player-by-player analysis...

Wonder_medium_medium_medium

Today's Warrior Wonder goes to Monta. How many is that now?

Here's how the starting five fared. Interestingly, Dominic McGuire started for D.Lee instead of Ekpe Udoh...

  • Steph: Horrid. Nash took advantage of his size and strength and took it to the hole at will. Mark brought him back with 5 fouls and under 3 minutes to go, which was the right thing to do, but Steph fell into the youngster trap of taking early shots with no one rebounding.
  • Monta: Did his thing, plus the extra assists. However, "doing his thing" also meant some early-in-the-shotclock attempts late in crunch time, sometimes with a nary rebounder nearby.
  • Dorell: I was watching the Suns broadcast and announcer Eddie Johnson (former three-point specialist) criticized Wright for building his game around his three-point shot and not balancing his weaponry with an ability to drive or at least take an attempt closer to the basket. I actually tweeted that, then Marcus Thompson retweeted it, Suns beatwriter Paul Coro saw it and told the TV crew, and they mentioned that a "Warriors fan actually thanked Eddie Johnson" for the observation. Haha!
  • Dominic: 6-for-9, 19 points, 9 rebounds. His energy was tremendous, as usual. He was not afraid to take the ball fullcourt when necessary. Great game in stepping up in place of D.Lee.
  • Andris Biedrins: Finally made it to the line after 65+ straight minutes of no charity stripe. Bricked both. With Kwame Brown beasting albeit throwing the ball away (see below) and Ekpe playing hard, Beans only logged 12 minutes.
Here's the rest of the crew...
  • Kwame: It was nice to see him beastin' in there still, but he was, not surprisingly, clumsy with the ball. For example, he'd slowly drive the ball and dislodge his man, forcing him to retreat, but then throw the ball out of bounds, expecting Klay Thompson to cut when it's quite obvious to the layman that Klay would prefer to spot up and shoot.
  • Udoh: Had a nice and-one where he backed in with the dribble in an isolated post a la Charles Barkley, and was hustling left and right as usual. It's good to see him incrementally improving that way.
  • Jenkins: He has an NBA body and used it well on defense against Nash. He also finished 3-for-3. Pretty much all you can ask for in limited minutes by a rook.
  • Brandon Rush: Solid performance with 13 points on 5-for-11.
  • Klay: Made two straight treys and then rushed a third shot. Marcus Thompson correctly tweeted that he had his first career heat-check shot.
  • Ish: Played only 32 seconds, per Marcus Thompson.

Other stuff...

  • Late in the game, Warriors down six with around two minutes remaining, Steph takes an early trey with nobody rebounding. On the ensuing possession, the Warriors don't close out on Dudley and he hits a trey. I think it was Monta on the rotation. Seriously, what was Dudley going to do? Take two dribbles past the close-out and do a stop-and-pop? Attack and finish at the rim? Come on. Think when you're out there. Know what your man can and cannot do. Incidentally, a few plays later, Dudley tried going to the rim, looked clumsy, and missed.
  • After the Dudley trey, Monta comes back with a driving layup that falls short on the rim. The problem? No Warrior was within 10 feet of him. It was an all-or-nothing play. Sure enough, Nash comes back with a trey of his own, indicative of lack of close out D mainly because of a fear that he will bully right past you, Steph.
  • One cool play on offense the Warriors ran was isolating Monta in the post against Ronnie Price, with Klay up top feeding him the ball, then staying strong side in three-point range, with Brandon Rush in the opposite corner with a double screen from the two forwards on that weakside block. In this particular play, Monta made a move, fed Klay, and Klay hit the open trey as his man shifted to double Monta.
  • There's been a lot of criticism of David Lee recently, including from myself, although my issues stem from his accepted role in the offense. So anyways, with the Warriors being outrebounded 49-36, D.Lee supporters will ask: What say you about his "empty" rebounders?
  • Steph just needs to get tougher. His fouls were more an indication of his knack for touch-fouling, rather than attempting to be more physical. Sometimes if you're a smaller player or an otherwise inferior defender, you just have to hack. Think Derek Fisher or, ahem, Mark Jackson back in the day. You have to make your defender think that there is, if nothing else, going to be pain inflicted in a legal way, if the thought process includes trying to beat you off the dribble. Steph has no sense of this.
  • Neither does Monta. Again, I have to point to the NBA backcourt. Two skinny 6'3" guys just does not cut it. As East Bay Ray of Bright Side Of The Sun reported in his recap,
I've been a big critic of Monta Ellis, but he was undoubtedly the Warriors best player today. He and Curry don't seem to fit well together, although the Warriors have said they're committed to trying to make it work for the foreseeable future. Eventually, one of the two figures to be traded.

For in-game tweets, follow Marcus Thompson on Twitter at @gswscribe. Follow me at @poormanscommish.

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