First Quarter: 44 - 27
The Warriors came into the game like gangbusters, blasting the doors off of the Suns' defense to the tune of 44 points in a quarter, a season high. Part of that came from the referees calling fouls for roughing up Stephen Curry off the bounce. Part of it was great ball movement sustained for 12 minutes. A lot of it was shooters hitting shots.
The Warriors started off shooting 8 of 11 on FGAs, with all 8 of their makes coming off assists. When the Warriors move the ball and Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Curry are hitting the shots they should hit, it doesn't really matter who the other team is.
Curry, by the way, went full on nuclear reactor tonight. I'm talking 4-point plays, 29-footers (plural), behind-the-backs, one-handed bullet passes. He'd finish the quarter with 19, as the Warriors shot 65% overall in the quarter and 9 of 12 from range along with 12 assists as a team.
Green was excellent, though he did have two "jumps up, tries to pass out to avoid the up-and-downs call but passes it into a Suns player's chest" moments, to go along with an early miscommunication with Curry when he passed it into Steph's back leading to an unforced turnover.
Defensively, the Warriors were not quite at peak performance. The Suns used the standard strategy of attacking Curry on the block anytime he switched onto a wing, but the Warriors heady defenders (Andrew Bogut, Thompson) were quick to pounce onto these mismatches to neutralize the advantage.
Livingston and Iguodala saw minutes together in the first for once, and that's always fun to see:
Around the 4:30 mark, Suns' coach Jeff Hornacek decided to try and bring the small ball fight to the Warriors for once, opting for a Mirza Teletovic, T.J. Warren, P.J. Tucker, Eric Bledsoe, Ronnie Price lineup. The Warriors kept Festus Ezeli on the floor against this look, but the dissonance was evident as the Suns converted three offensive possessions consecutively.
Festus missed a free throw and Curry got the rebound and then did this, because the city of Phoenix somehow wronged the Curry family in order to deserve this:
The porous interior defense was evident, as the Suns shot 55% from the field overall.
Second Quarter: 75 - 57
In a "heh, this'll catch 'em off guard" move, Luke Walton went with a Harrison Barnes - Shaun Livingston - Leandro Barbosa - Andre Iguodala - Brandon Rush lineup out of the gates.
They got off to a rough start offensively, and a rougher start defensively. Rush auditioned for the leading role in the broadway classic "A Turnstile Named Desire". Overall, the defense performed substandard, especially considering that Andre on the floor. There was a particularly bad sequence involving a miscommunication between Andre and another Warriors leading to a Bledsoe triple that cut the lead to 13.
Phoenix penetration was the largest non-Curry story in the quarter. They got where they wanted, as normally stout defenders were beaten. It was in part due to the fact that they hugged up on the Suns on the perimeter, leading to wider driving lanes and harder recoveries. Though it may have all simply been a genius move to get the ball back onto offense so the Warriors could score again.
The lead hovered around 12 before Curry and Thompson returned to the floor and resumed their torrid shooting.
The Warriors' execution on both ends was lacking in places. Case in point: off of a second consecutive Barnes missed FT, Bledsoe ran the ball back coast-to-coast for an And-1 layup. Draymond had a shot-clock violation. Curry had two TOs in a row, one of them completely unforced as he brought the ball up.
Phoenix ran back those two turnovers to bring the score to 67 - 57. But the Warriors never stopped hitting threes, ending the half shooting 66% overall, and Steph contributing 27 points. Tyson Chandler, after starting the game for Phoenix, didn't see the floor in the quarter.
Steph Curry has just passed LeBron James for 35th on the all-time made treys list. pic.twitter.com/jniPXtqS9a— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 28, 2015
Third Quarter: 103 - 81
Hornacek opted to continue going small, as Chandler stayed on the bench to start the second half. What a woeful start for the Warriors.
The big news is that Harrison Barnes suffered what looked like a nasty ankle sprain after contesting a Marcus Morris jumper. That coincided with a five minute opening stretch without a FG for the Warriors. A Bledsoe triple brought the Suns to within 11.
Andrew Bogut had a great sequence that awoke the Golden State behemoth: he first halted a Phoenix break with a block, keeping it inbounds; he then found Iguodala open under the basket for the Warriors' first FG in the half; he ran back down the floor to get one more block for good measure.
Green had perhaps the best pass of the night, threading the needle between three Phoenix players on a bounce pass in the lane to a cutting Curry, who converted the shot plus the And-1 opportunity. Curry finished the quarter with 41 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 6 turnovers.
Walton put in a Livingston - Curry - Rush - Iguodala - Ezeli lineup to finish out the quarter. Rush and Liv played better defense this time around. So did Ezeli.
Watch what this Festus block turns into. (CSNBA & NBA TV) https://t.co/EYdqTn42zZ— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) November 28, 2015
Fourth Quarter: 135 - 116
For the third time in the 2015 - 2016 season, Steph Curry did not play the fourth quarter. Klay and Green did, however. The two starters checked in with about 9 minutes remaining and a 23 point lead in hand. In a game in which one starter already suffered an injury, it was a slightly perplexing rotational decision.
But Klay finished with only 27 minutes played even with his 5:30 minutes of fourth quarter burn, due to earlier foul trouble. Green played until he got his arbitrarily significant triple double, the third of his career. All told, he had the highest minute total for the team, at 33. Bogut only played 13 minutes because of Hornacek's rotations, and Curry played 31. Barnes played 21 minutes before his injury.
Ian Clark was under control all night long offensively, which was great to see. Barbosa had his best game as a Warriors, shooting 5 - 5 from three for 21 points. Those two led the charge for the Warriors in the fourth, which saw the Warriors set a new franchise record for threes made (22) with 2:16 remaining in the game on a Rush triple.
Golden State has won 21-straight regular-season games dating back to last season, the fourth team in NBA history to win 21+ straight games.— GSWStats (@gswstats) November 28, 2015
Get well soon, Black Falcon.
In his stead, Walton has a plethora of imperfect options to choose from. I'll go ahead and throw my hat in the Ian Clark corner on this decision. Andre, of course, is a vital cog in the rotation. It wouldn't make sense to start him, despite him being far and away the best wing on the team (excluding Draymond). Rush looks like a 45 year old trying to run on the court now. Barbosa, despite recency bias strongly favoring him, is another player whose optimal value stems from his position on the depth chart.
The Suns aren't that bad of a team. They executed fast breaks well. They have talent. The Warriors, despite some cylinders misfiring all night, are just better than them. But now I'm just repeating myself from other recaps.
The box score of the record-setting night.
Voices of GSoM: