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Player grades: Warriors vs. Suns

Assessing every Golden State player’s performance in the 104-96 loss to Phoenix.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors lost 104-96 to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, in a highly-anticipated showdown that will be rematched on Friday. It was Golden State’s first loss in over two weeks, and their biggest loss of the season.

It’s probably not news that players look worse in losses than in wins, so take a deep breath, grab a nearby beverage, and settle into another episode of player grades. As a reminder, all players are graded relative to their individual expectations.

Draymond Green

32 minutes, 8 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 5 turnovers, 3 fouls, 4-for-8 shooting, -7

With Steph Curry struggling on offense, Green got tasked with a lot of the playmaking. And while he led the team in assists, he was still well below his season average, with a turnover to match every dime.

Other than that, it was a good game. He was the best defender on the court (which, while expected, is no small thing in a game featuring Mikal Bridges), guarding both Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. He knocked in some shots, gobbled up rebounds, and looked ready for the clash.

Grade: B

Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds and assists.

Andrew Wiggins

33 minutes, 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 4-for-12 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, -7

The Warriors needed more from Wiggins this game. It wasn’t his fault that Curry had the off night to end all off nights, but the Dubs still need to be able to rely on Wiggins more when other players are struggling.

Unfortunately it was a rough game all over for Wiggins. The defense was solid enough, but the scoring was bad, the playmaking was bad, and the rebounding was bad.

Grade: C+

Kevon Looney

17 minutes, 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 2-for-6 shooting, 1-for-2 free throws, -17

The Warriors tried to play Looney a bit to match up with Ayton, a very large and talented center. It didn’t work. While Looney did score the Dubs’ first four points, Golden State was outscored by a point a minute while he was on the court. Ayton got whatever he wanted in that matchup, finishing with an efficient 24 points and 11 rebounds.

I’ll be curious to see if Looney plays much on Friday.

Grade: C

Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team

Steph Curry

36 minutes, 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4-for-21 shooting, 3-for-14 threes, 1-for-1 free throws, -17

Give credit to Chris Paul and the entire Suns defense for the way they played Curry. At the same time, listen to Monty Williams, who was asked after the third quarter how Phoenix was slowing down Curry. His response? That Curry was missing shots.

The truth is both. Paul is one of the league’s top defenders, and the Suns are one of the sport’s stingiest defenses. But Curry simply did not have it this game. His shot was off the whole time, with several air balls punctuating the off night. He couldn’t find separation, getting very little going at the rim, and only shooting a free throw when Phoenix got hit with a technical foul.

Despite the heavy shot attempt total, give Curry credit for not forcing it. Most of his looks were still ones you want him taking, and he didn’t rack up the turnovers. But it simply was a bad game for the chef.

Still the MVP, though.

Grade: D+

Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.

Jordan Poole

35 minutes, 28 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 2 fouls, 9-for-15 shooting, 6-for-12 threes, 4-for-5 free throws, -9

Poole apparently missed the memo that the Warriors starters were supposed to struggle and have inefficient nights. He missed the memo entirely.

JP had the best quarter of his career in the first, when he scored 16 points, which included an 11-0 Warriors run in which Poole was the lone scorer. He was the go-to offensive option all night, and kept the Warriors alive.

If you want to know how the Warriors only lost by single digits, on the road, against a team that now has a 17-game winning streak, on a night when Curry shot 4-for-21, the reason starts with Poole.

Grade: A+

Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.

Nemanja Bjelica

16 minutes, 4 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 1-for-4 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, -3

Bjelica continues to struggle a bit with his usually dependable shot, which may be the result of his sporadic minutes. He still did a lot of good things in this game, though.

Grade: B

Jonathan Kuminga

8 seconds, 0 points, 0 +/-

8 seconds of garbage time, woo hoo!

Grade: Incomplete

Otto Porter Jr.

30 minutes, 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 6-for-11 shooting, 4-for-8 threes, +10

Other than Poole, Porter was the Warriors best player on Tuesday. He drained a trio of threes that helped the Dubs jump out to a decent second-quarter lead, and did everything the Dubs asked him to do. Had it been a more normal game for Golden State’s starters, we’d be singing Porter’s praises for being the dynamic bench piece that helped lead the team to a dominant victory.

Grade: A

Juan Toscano-Anderson

13 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, 5 turnovers, 1-for-2 shooting, -2

JTA has come to be known for how smart and in control he plays, so it was a bit jarring to see him have 5 turnovers — it was just the second time all season he’d had more than a pair in a game.

He struggled all through this game, and now has just a single rebound in his last two games combined.

Grade: C-

Gary Payton II

16 minutes, 8 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 foul, 4-for-6 shooting, 0-for-2 threes, +17

I frequently advise people in this segment to not look too deep into single-game plus/minus, but it’s hard not to notice the Warriors outscoring the Suns by 17 points in Payton’s 16 minutes, while getting outscored by 25 points in the 32 minutes he sat.

The only issue with GP2’s game on Tuesday was that teams are starting to dare him to shoot more, and his shot is falling off a bit. But he was still tremendous.

Grade: A-

Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus

Chris Chiozza

12 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 1-for-1 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, -5

Chiozza did exactly what the Warriors want out of a two-way contract: he hustled hard, played quality defense, and made smart decisions with the basketball. He looked in control, and like an NBA player, and was rewarded with crucial fourth quarter minutes.

Grade: B+

Tuesday’s DNPs: Moses Moody

Tuesday’s inactives: Jeff Dowtin, Andre Iguodala, Damion Lee, Klay Thompson, James Wiseman

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