Warriors light up Suns, tune up for playoffs
On Star Wars night against the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors had the defensive success of any no-name storm trooper defending against the Rebels.
Dragan Bender got loose for four 3’s, some guy named Alec Peters played 12 minutes a rained in a 3, and another guy name Danuel House went And-1 mixtape on them, throwing the ball to himself off the backboard for a dunk.
Luckily, order was restored when the Warriors (55-21) returned to their Jedi-like state and finished off the Suns (19-58) from the high ground Sunday evening, 117-107.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both stayed hot, topping 20 points for the second consecutive game. Thompson went for 23 points while Durant finished with 29 points, 11 boards and eight assists of his own. They definitely feel like they are in rhythm offensively, which is good, because without them, the team was lost.
Steve Kerr said Durant has as much ability as anyone, and yet can play with anyone as well:
“This guy’s so talented, you put him out there with Steph, great. You put him out there without Steph, great. I mean he’s still going to get any shot he wants and dominate a game, he almost got a triple-double tonight. He’s just a really gifted player and he can adapt to anything he sees.”
Draymond Green also looks like he’s found his stride, dishing out assists as the Warriors de facto point guard, and even hitting some deep 3’s. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting with 12 assists.
After a first half where the Warriors looked nothing like a playoff team and let the tanking Suns take a one-point lead into halftime, they rebounded with essentially just effort — and that’s all it took. Golden State outscored Phoenix 36-18 in the third quarter and didn’t look back from there.
Quinn Cook joined the other three starters in double-figures with 19 points of his own. And combined with Green, Durant and Thompson went 11-of-21 from the 3-point line.
Durant said it’s been a fun ride to play alongside his good friend Cook:
“I’m excited for him but at the same time I know it’s an opportunity for me to help and give him my experiences and for him to also help me out as well. When I come in here and you guys ask me those questions, I tend to reminisce and think about how far we both have come as players and where we come from. It’s pretty special.”
The other starter was Kevon Looney, who drew the nod at center over JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia. The Suns don’t start a traditional center, so Kerr countered with Looney, who has been more than impressive over the last month. This could be the playoff look for the Warriors though, as Looney has earned his ascent up the big man depth chart.
Pachulia looks like he may be headed for the Andrew Bogut treatment, going from regular season starter to DNP-CD in the playoffs.
Kerr said it’s not easy for their centers, but they all know the drill:
“We’re going to need all our centers. Every guy will play a role for us in the playoffs. It’s not an easy role for Zaza, JaVale or Loon. They might start, they might not play. I’ve told them that, it’s just the way our team is built and the way playoffs are looking. We’ve got to matchup and we got to be ready for different matchups.”
Looney logged 24 minutes while McGee and Pachulia played a combined 10. In fact, the two bigs who logged the most minutes, aside from Draymond Green, were Looney and Jordan Bell, which gives you a sense of how the rotation might play out against more mobile centers.
Cook said that everyone has confidence in everyone else whenever they step in the starting lineup:
“Everybody’s ready. Everybody is capable to step up and start and play minutes. I think everybody on the roster can do that, and I think that’s what makes this team so great, is just the strength in numbers. If guys have to play 40 minutes or two minutes, guys are going to be professional, be ready and compete at a high level.”
But more importantly, no one got hurt. And balance seems to have been restored to the galaxy — at least for now.
The Warriors enter the home stretch of the regular season, with just five games remaining. They’ll travel to Oklahoma to take on the Thunder Tuesday in a game with playoff seeding on the line. The Warriors are still unsure of their opponent but the Thunder are one of the four teams that are a possibility.
With their win tonight, the Warriors have not beaten the Suns 14 consecutive times, the longest active streak against any team. They’ve also now won 13 straight games against the Suns at Oracle Arena. … Patrick McCaw was released from the UC Davis Medical Center earlier Sunday. McCaw took a scary fall Saturday night in Sacramento that left everybody in the organization rattled. All his tests came back negative and he was diagnosed with a lumbar spine contusion, he’ll be reevaluated Thursday, but the diagnosis comes as a huge sigh of relief after he was rolled off the court on a stretcher just the night before. Kerr said it was a huge relief to the team to know he’s going to be ok:
“Last night was really terrifying…Especially being out there on the floor and hearing him cry in pain and just seeing him immobilized and the doctors going through protocol, because that’s the scariest injury for any athlete is a spinal one.”