Oracle Arena - Oakland, CA
7:30 p.m. PST
Radio: KNBR 680 AM | TV: CSN Bay Area
Buddy Blog: Bright Side of the Sun
So sometimes you get punched in the face... and the Warriors definitely did on Friday night in Utah.
Maybe a team that had ridden on such a high so far this season needed a nice gut check in the form of a trash defense performance with no energy against a young hungry Utah team who showed that if you don't show up, anyone could beat you on any given night.
Steve Kerr: "We didn't have enough life to win a game on the road against a hungry, young team. It's all energy. It's all focus and being on edge. Everybody in this league has so much talent, so it's usually the team that has a little better edge, physically, emotionally."
"We can't play that way on the road, not getting those loose balls, and not boxing out and not getting a body on people and expect to win."
Yea Steve, that pretty much says it.
Poor shooting mixed with uninspired effort leaves you looking up at your opponent on the scoreboard and measuring the impact of a letdown game. You could tell as they walked off the court last Wednesday against the Bulls that they were tired and warn out, but who expects to head to Utah and take one on the chin like that? Sure, Steph showed up and scored his points, but the rest of the roster decided to take this one off. Bad shooting numbers from most of the team, along with half awake efforts helped guys like Gordon Haywood and Trey Burke look like the All-Stars rather than Klay and Draymond Green.
Fast forward now to today: the Suns are coming to town and they are even hungrier than the Jazz. They are actually playing for something at this point in the season, not just Jazz-like pride. Fighting for the 8th spot in the West (holding a three game lead over the Pelicans), Phoenix boasts a roster that has always given the Warriors troubles. The three-headed monster of Dragic/Bledsoe/Thomas all put up above 15 points per game, but that doesn't tell the whole story of the balanced attack they feature. Mix in P.J. Tucker - their scrappy version of Draymond - and the scoring prowess of Gerald Green (Warrior Killer) and matchup nightmare Markieff Morris and you have 5 players averaging in double digits. The Suns excel on the offensive end, but live and die by their effort on the defensive end. They are putting up Don Nelson-esque numbers, ranking 2nd in the league in scoring while giving up the third worse # of points. The ghost of D'Antoni still wants them to run you off the court, but you can run them back just as hard. Sure, they have some cloud of suspicion floating over their head right now with assault investigations pending against the Morris twins, but that hasn't seem to slow them down.
The Warriors dropped the last matchup to the Suns back in November, handing them a rough 107-95 loss. The game was close until the Suns blew Golden State out with a huge 4th quarter that featured poor Warriors shooting, porous defense and bad effort. Sound familiar?
The Warriors are reeling a bit right now, starting to show a limp they are carrying as they approach the All-Star break. It's the character of the team and how they recover in times like this that make the season, but are facing a heck of a challenge against a Suns team coming off a shut down of the Bulls on Friday night. Lets hope some home cooking helps to remedy this team of whatever ails them.
- The defense, behind a nice verbal lashing that Draymond and Bogut give to the team before game time, gets back to its shutdown ways
- Steph and Klay don't have to carry the offensive load, and someone else steps up to help the scoring
- The Warriors get a boost from their home crowd and get their swagger back
- The Warriors avenge the early season loss, regroup and put away the Suns 113-99.