The Golden State Warriors were loose with the ball and missed several layups throughout Wednesday’s matchup against the Phoenix Suns. Normally, that’s a recipe for disaster. But despite their unforced errors on offense, the Dubs defense gave them a shot at victory against the best team in the NBA. However, they still fell just short, unable to overcome their unforced errors in a 107-103 loss.
The Warriors entered play with the third-best record in the Western Conference, but also amidst their worst stretch of the season. They are 7-15 over their past 22 games and have been out of sorts on both sides of the ball. It looked like the Dubs were heading towards more of the same early, falling behind 12-2 early in the first quarter. However, emerging young star Jordan Poole hit back, scoring 15 points in an electric first quarter that carried the Warriors to a 32-29 lead at the end of the quarter.
From there, it looked like a battle between two of the best teams in the league. While the Warriors have not looked like it recently, and are a shell of themselves without Steph Curry, their defensive intensity looked like what fans have been waiting for since Draymond Green finally returned from injury. Green had some notable mental mishaps on offense but was back delivering at a high level as a defensive anchor. He finished the game with 6 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks.
With Green at his best, Gary Payton II, Andrew Wiggins, and Andre Iguodala were thriving as well. Despite the Warriors obvious height disadvantage, Suns center DeAndre Ayton was just 7-for-17 from the field with 16 points and 5 turnovers. On the perimeter, Chris Paul was a secondary scoring threat and Devin Booker shot just 5-for-21. The Suns shot just 41.3% from the field and 25% from three over the course of the game.
Golden State’s elite defensive performance helped them recover from a regrettable offensive night. The Warriors had an abysmal 14 turnovers in the first half, many of them unforced, and finished the game with 21 turnovers. Even when they did get a shot up, it felt like the Warriors missed several lightly contested shots in and around the rim.
Poole was once again the lone Warriors player providing consistent offensive punch. In another excellent performance, Poole recorded 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists on 11-for-22 shooting (7-for-15 from three). In the words of my colleague Joe Viray:
Pay Jordan Poole.— Joe Viray (@JoeVirayNBA) March 31, 2022
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk
Klay Thompson and Wiggins once again had their moments offensively but were far from efficient options. They finished 11-for-37 from the field with just 32 combined points. Yet the Warriors still kept things close.
The Warriors trailed in the final minute, but with the Suns in the penalty, Poole drew two non-shooting fouls and knocked down four consecutive free throws. With 39 seconds left in, the Dubs led 101-100.
Then mental errors from the Warriors veterans cost them the game. Booker drew a foul away from the ball by Thompson that put Golden State over the limit. Booker nailed both shots and the Suns were back ahead 102-101. On the following possession, Green got caught in the air and Otto Porter Jr hesitated to slip a screen. Green was called for a travel. Paul answered with a short floater that put Phoenix ahead 104-101.
Phoenix fouled Green as soon as the Warriors got the ball back and Golden State needed to force a turnover or get some free-throw luck to have a chance. Green made both his foul shots and Paul was fouled. He made them both and the Dubs trailed 106-103 with 7.7 seconds remaining, but Poole preemptively took a half-court heave and the result was settled.
The Warriors now fall to fourth in the West, losing the tiebreaker to the Dallas Mavericks. Golden State gets a couple of days off before hosting the Utah Jazz on Saturday at 5:30 PM Pacific Standard Time.
Join our postgame show live over on Twitch. The show is hosted by our own Marc Delucchi and breaks down the Warriors' latest game, the latest news around the NBA, and the Dubs upcoming schedule: