The world champion Golden State Warriors were defeated at home 117-109 by a plucky Phoenix Suns effort. Stephen Curry led the shorthanded Dubs with 23 points, while Kevin Durant added 12 points of his own. The Warriors sat out Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston for rest purposes.
Let’s talk some preseason hoops!
Suns show glimpse of a ‘rocket’ fueled offense
The Suns lit up the Warriors for 40 points in the first quarter; the home team was feeling the absence of their All-NBA caliber defenders Thompson and Green. Two former Houston Rockets came out firing, probably attempting to erase the memories of that Western Conference choke job from last season. Trevor Ariza had 12 points, 3 steals, and 3 made triples in the first half. Ryan Anderson was gunslingin’ right next to him during the first two quarters, knocking down two treys of his own. The Suns shot 40 percent, 9 of 22 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Curry returned fire that half with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 3 assists. He’s been hot the whole preseason, and the Suns had no answers for him early on.
Steph with the casual four point play pic.twitter.com/gjyfRCOrbw— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 9, 2018
The champs went into the break trailing 61-57, and it looked like the Warriors were priming to chase the Suns down with a third quarter surge....
Coach Kerr’s early exit
The Warriors surge never activated however, as the officiating yanked the momentum right out of the building. Nine seconds into the second half, Curry picked up his THIRD offensive foul and an ensuing technical. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was quite displeased with what was clearly a disrespectful series of calls to make on a Unanimous MVP:
Coach Kerr was ejected from a preseason game and waved good-bye to the ref pic.twitter.com/B31cgOpKBK— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 9, 2018
So far tonight . . .— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) October 9, 2018
Durant slapped with a T
Curry slapped with a T
Kerr slapped a ejection
. . . and still 19 minutes to play
Yes, these are the dog days of the preseason.
The champs never quite gained a rhythm after that moment, and the Suns pounced with a calculated fury. I found it pretty funny watching an annoyed Kerr storming back to the locker room as an amused DeMarcus Cousins sat near the Warriors’ bench. I’m sure Cousins was thinking, “And I’M supposed to be the hot head?”
What is it about the Suns that brings out the best of Kerr’s shenanigans? Last year, he stopped coaching and let his players do it in a game against Phoenix. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they ousted him from the General Manager role when Kerr was with the organization, who knows?
Warriors’ big men show flashes of things to come
Damian Jones had his best game of the preseason so far. He tallied 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. I was impressed with his improved hands and decision making on the offensive end. He made a nifty pocket pass to Kevon Looney after catching the ball rolling into post traffic. Another time, he rolled down after setting a pick, controlled a tough pass, and smoothly knocked down a turnaround jumper.
Looney chipped in 11 points of his own on 4-of-5 shooting from the field. His defense was stellar as well; he looked a big shark on defense. He moved his feet very easily defending the Suns guards on switches, and even successfully baited a charge.
Jordan Bell continued to show off his new mid-range jumper. It’s clear he worked on it over the summer, and it payed off when he knocked it down in a defenders face in the third quarter. What I really liked is that the next time he was in a similar position with the ball, he used a great pump fake to blow by his defender for a strong finish at the rim.
DeMarcus Cousins, not to be outdone, sat at the announcer table during the second quarter and hung out with the Warriors’ announcing duo, JB and Fitz. His charming sense of humor and quick wit were on display, especially when Kevin Durant accidentally slipped out of his shoes (“That wouldn’t have happened in some Puma’s!”, Cousins bellowed, referencing the center’s new Puma contract).
He even guaranteed he’ll get less techs than his passionate teammate Green.
Boogie says he's getting less techs than Dray this year pic.twitter.com/g9fwwicA9P— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 9, 2018
I never thought we could have a more entertaining group of big men than we had last year including Javale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, and David West. Clearly, I thought wrong. This stable of Dubs’ big men are poised to bring it on and off the floor.
Sneak peak of new movie, “Jerebko: Stretch 4”
Here at GSoM, a grumbling chorus was growing around Jonas Jerebko’s rather Casspian inclination to clog up the paint with arrhythmic backdoor cutting. There’s no shame in having to get used to the Warriors’ pyrotechnic offense, but Jerebko seemed to be overthinking EVERYTHING.
Ultimately, Jerebko was brought here to stretch the floor, and last night we got our first glimpse of what that might look like as he knocked down two of his four attempts from downtown. Keep shootin’ em, JJ!
Phoenix has a plan?
The new look Suns generated a bevy of solid offensive possessions against the Warriors defense. They shot 51% from the field for the game and nailed 14-of-33 three-point attempts (42%). Their sets looked lively, and they moved the ball with purpose, racking up 29 assists.
Rookie giant Deandre Ayton looked polished, demonstrating a complete offensive skill-set. He moved without the ball smoothly, unleashed a sweet baby hook shot, and even showed an accurate midrange jumper. He finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds. I believe this kid is going to be punishing defenses for years to come.
When Devin Booker returns, the Suns could potentially battle for a playoff spot if this offense continues to trend upward. They have a solid mix of vets and youngsters, and first year head coach Igor Kokoškov appears to have them buying in.
Of course, it’s only preseason after all. We’ll have to wait and see what happens when things get serious.
Trevor Ariza from 3 tonight: 4 of 7.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 9, 2018
Trevor Ariza from 3 in Games 6 and 7 of the West Finals: 2 of 18