Headling the NBA’s highly-anticipated Christmas Day schedule, the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns squared off at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. After splitting their first two games of the season series, the Warriors won 116-107 in the third matchup between the two-best records in the league.
The Warriors had both two-way players (Chris Chiozza and Jeff Dowtin) and their recent hardship signing (Quinndary Weatherspoon) active on Saturday and still had just 11 available players. Without almost their entire wing depth chart (Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Andre Iguodala, and Damion Lee), Golden State faced a challenge trying to slow down the Suns’ high-power offense.
Golden State got off to a hot start, led by star guard Stephen Curry. Entering today’s game, Curry had never scored 20 points on a Christmas Day game. However, an early made three sparked an 11-point first quarter that led the Dubs to a 33-27 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Draymond Green was at his best early, threading the needle on several early assists and setting the tone defensively. Green matched up against Suns point guard Chris Paul and was flying all over the floor all game long. His passing got a bit more erratic as the game went on, but Green stepped up to ensure Golden State could keep the game close despite missing key defenders like Wiggins and Iguodala. He finished the game with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.
The Suns doubled Steph sporadically throughout the rest of the game, and while he consistently found his way to the free-throw line, Phoenix kept him contained from the field. Without a strong second quarter and minimal offensive contributions from anyone besides Gary Payton II, the Dubs went into the half trailing 62-58.
The Warriors rebuilt a lead in the first half of the third quarter, but Phoenix bounced back as soon as Curry went to the bench. With the game tied at 84 entering the fourth quarter, Golden State’s limited depth would be tested.
Curry reignited at the start of the fourth and stretched the Warriors’ lead to seven. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga gave the Dubs some huge minutes off the bench, playing great defense on Paul and scoring some much-needed points. He finished with 12 points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field, including a highlight-reel reverse layup in the fourth quarter.
However, Curry went to the bench with 5 minutes to go, and the Dubs went -3 while he sat. Steph returned to the game with 2:47 left in regulation, hoping to finish Phoenix off. Instead of Curry, though, it was Otto Porter Jr. who stepped up to nail three huge jumpers that extended the Warriors lead to 116-107. Starting in place of Wiggins, Porter recorded 19 huge points alongside 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
Still, Curry finally broke 20 points on Christmas Day, finishing with 33 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Unsurprisingly, he was also a game-high +24.
The Warriors are now 27-6 and get a couple of days off before taking on the Denver Nuggets back home at the Chase Center.
If you want to talk more about the Warriors latest game, hop into the Twitch stream with Marc Delucchi: