The Golden State Warriors beat the Phoenix Suns 132-109 on New Years Eve, closing out 2018 on a high note.
Stephen Curry led the way for the Warriors with a game-high 34 points as well as a team-high 9 rebounds. Kevin Durant added 25 points.
Yet in this season of searching for production from the younger players, Jordan Bell scoring a season-high 10 points and team-high-tying 3 blocks was especially noteworthy.
Jordan Bell has scored a season-high 10 points (5-5 FG). His previous high was eight points (10/24/18 vs. WAS).— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) January 1, 2019
Jordan Bell with a 10-3-2-1-2 in 11 great minutes tonight. Active defensively, smart decisions, finishing well around the rim, just crushed an alley oop. The guy GSW hoped they'd get nightly in Year 2.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 1, 2019
The Warriors led by as much as 30 in the fourth quarter despite plenty of time for the reserves to get some run.
The Warriors struggled to pull away from the young Suns in the first half despite shooting 59.1% from the field. The Suns kept themselves in the game by drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line — they shot 12-for-14 from the free throw line in the first half and Devin Booker led the charge by shooting 6-for-6 in the first 24 minutes. Booker finished with 20 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
The Suns also made a point of feeding Deandre Ayton early — Ayton finished the first half with 10 points on nine shots, which was just one shot less than leading scorer Devin Booker. Without a big to contend with Ayton’s size — he finished the game with a team-high 25 points and game-high 10 rebounds — the Warriors did a reasonable job of forcing him into moves that were just at the edge of his repertoire.
Bell, in particular, made an impression defensively, doing his best to earn his minutes by defending Ayton.
Jordan Bell is doing things out here... pic.twitter.com/VHWjcimpvW— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 1, 2019
Jordan Bell has a lot of upside. Wouldn't be surprised if he figures things out and ends up having a really solid career.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) January 1, 2019
Warriors up 17 at half in Phoenix. Curry has 18, Durant 15, best Jordan Bell minutes in awhile.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 1, 2019
Nevertheless, the Warriors made a 24-7 run to finish the half and headed into halftime up 17 points. The Warriors’ defense held up despite the Suns attacking the rim and feeding Ayton — the Dubs held the Suns to just 39.1% shooting in the first half. That was enough cushion to carry them through.
Ayton and Booker finished with plenty of points, but that just wasn’t enough to overcome the duo of Curry and Durant in addition to a strong performance from Bell.
With the win, the Warriors close out 2018 at 25-13 in the 2018-19 season — they’re right in the mix for first place in the Western Conference after a 10-5 record in December.