Well, now we know the Warriors aren't going undefeated. Damn, I really thought this was the year.
27 turnovers just doesn't cut it against the top Western Conference teams, especially on the road in the second games of back-to-backs -- while missing Klay Thompson. The Suns are too dynamic and fast-paced a team to turn the ball over to them so many times. Indeed, Golden State's turnovers led to 23 points for Phoenix and foul trouble for key big men Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. The Warriors currently lead the league in turnovers at over 21 per game, and tonight that doomed them, even though their overall defense was solid in limiting Phoenix to 43% shooting.
With Bogut and Ezeli hampered by foul trouble, Phoenix's key bench cogs Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green found rhythms and tilted the game to the Suns.
Thomas, a Warriors-killer throughout his time with Sacramento, absolutely crushed the Warriors in the second half. He scored 22 points and made 13-14 free throws, putting Stephen Curry in foul trouble in the fourth quarter and forcing him to the bench. Gerald Green, conversely, did his damage from outside the arc, exploding for 16 fourth-quarter points on four three-pointers. With Thomas on the floor, Phoenix outscored Golden State by 16 points, and with Green the margin shot to +19.
The Warriors ran out of gas in this one, understandable on the second game of a back-to-back without Klay Thompson due to a sprained right hand. However, Golden State must be able to finish games with the personnel they have, especially after holding a ten-point third quarter lead. It's just another sign that the Warriors need to grow on offense in order to become a true championship contender.
As good as Stephen Curry is, and he was great tonight, it won't be the Curry-ISO show again this season. It just can't be, if the Warriors are to advance far into the playoffs.
You saw what happened tonight when he's asked to do everything: 28 points on 10-20 shooting and had ten assists, but also ten turnovers -- a unique triple-double. Steph scored 22 in an electric first half but just six points in the second half, and, not coincidentally, that's when the Warriors fell apart.
With Curry out of whack and in foul trouble -- picking up 2 fouls in the last five seconds of the third quarter, and his fifth with 7:12 remaining in the fourth quarter -- the Warriors had no offense in the second half. Nothing. They had to rely on Leandro Barbosa, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Marreese Speights for offense. Yes, Draymond had 22 points, but he had none in the fourth quarter. Thus, it went exactly as you may think: Turnovers by the Warriors and easy scores for the Suns on the other end.
The Suns were running and running and running, basically giddy with glee at playing at their pace with no shot-blockers on the other side. Phoenix already plays at such a frenetic pace, tonight was as if they needed to spread an already large fire and the Warriors handed them a blowtorch.
Thomas, Dragic, and Green shredded the Warriors defense in the second half. They played tonight the way Rockets GM Daryl Morey would love to play every game, firing up threes and attacking the basket relentlessly. Phoenix mercilessly attacked the rim to the tune of nine offensive rebounds and 33 free throws, of which they made 27. Twenty-seven free throws. Golden State only shot 21, making 18.
Even though the Warriors shot a better percentage from the field, from three-point land, and from the foul line, the Suns still outpaced them in terms of sheer points from all three areas. The Suns shot ten more field goals -- six more threes -- and nine more free throws, thanks to the 27 Golden State turnovers. The Warriors lost by 12. That's your game right there.
Warrior Wonder: Stephen Curry
I was deliberating whether to give Warrior Wonder to Draymond, but Curry was so breathtaking during the first half, and the reason the Warriors kept it close until the final six minutes of the fourth. 28 points, ten assists, and five steals, with 22 points, seven assists and four steals in the first half alone. He's the top scorer in the league, and leads the NBA in steals right now as well. Steph had another of those plays in the first half where he scores, steals the ball, and scores again; in fact, he did that twice tonight. Floaters, jumpers, long threes, dimes; this dude does it all and has become a complete player. However, as we saw last season, it's going to take more than Curry creating everything for everybody on the Warriors to get a W.
Up Next: Tuesday vs San Antonio Spurs
The defending champs come to Oracle on Veteran's Day to challenge the upstart Dubs. Will San Antonio (who will be on the second night of a back-to-back) play all their starters? They killed the Warriors all four times last season, even in March when they sat Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and TIm Duncan. Turnovers will be an issue, especially if the Spurs have their full contingent of players. Golden State simply cannot afford to turn the ball over so much against top Western Conference teams. If they can take care of the ball -- and if Thompson returns, which is likely -- the Warriors should have a great shot at getting a bounce-back victory against a Western Conference rival.