The Phoenix Suns got to face the league's #1 defense and #2 offense, and paid the price for being... well, not very good right now.
The Golden State Warriors got to wear their home whites and enjoy a loud pro-Warriors crowd... as they took on the Suns in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns wore their purple Los Suns uniforms, allowing the Warriors to feel like they were in a pseudo home game.
The Warriors started hot, but then allowed the Suns to get back into the game and keep it close for the whole first half, including a Suns 9-0 run to end the half and tie the game at 46-46.
In that final couple of minutes of the first half, the Suns home crowd really got into the game and helped the team finish strong.
But then the Warriors laid the wood - on both ends of the court - in the third quarter to outscore the Suns 30-15.
Then sick Stephen Curry happened, making killer shot after killer shot. In traffic. Out of loose ball scrums. Fading away.
It took five possessions and a 10-2 Warriors start for the Suns to have an offensive possession that looked like it was on purpose. They couldn't take advantage of Morris in the post against Klay Thompson because Bledsoe and Knight just kept dribbling the ball into the paint without purpose (and turning it over).
The Warriors, meanwhile, switched and switched - they play 6'8" Harrison Barnes, 6'8" Draymond Green and 6'8" Klay Thompson on the wings - the smaller Suns into confusion.
At one point on a fast break, Stephen Curry turned around in mid-air, planted his feet on the catch and launched a beautiful three-pointer that... well... splashed.
The Suns clawed back with some scrappy play - that's all there is these days - and kept the game close, but you just felt like the Warriors were cruising at this point.
And then the Suns said "okay" and had a couple, okay a lot of, really bad possessions in a row.
They have definitely lost their mojo, and don't have a fearless scorer to bail them out of any funks by taking the ball and driving it. We all got frustrated with Thomas dominating the ball, but the Suns could use that right now.
The Warriors had 15 fast break points in the first quarter alone (making 6 of 6 shots), while the Suns had... zero.
I remind everyone that the Warriors have the league's #2 offense and #1 defense.
More of the same, with the Suns playing tentative.
Yet, the Warriors - after taking an 11-point lead - went into a drunken funk and stopped playing with purpose. Meanwhile, the Suns kept playing with good effort and were able to pull to within three points on a pair of Alex Len free throws.
The Suns methodical comeback was all thanks to Brandon Knight, who scored 13 points on 5-9 shooting in 13 minutes... before turning ankle pretty bad and leaving without putting any weight on it.
Still, it got to 38-33 with just 4 minutes left in the half before Golden State pulled away again with Suns hustle plays of their own. They pushed the lead to 42-35 on couple of putback/free throws. Bledsoe made a couple of ill-advised passes in traffic that ended in turnovers.
But then the Suns and the crowd, by extension, woke.
The Suns finished the quarter on a 9-0 run that included some disruptive defense and fast breaks. The crowd of Suns fans finally got into the game bigtime, even standing during a timeout to enjoy the Suns run.
Might that be the run the Suns need to galvanize? We'll see.
The first few minutes of the second half will be really telling on how the Suns handle their 9-0 run to end the half. Brandon Knight won't be back, so maybe we will see some extra T.J. Warren in the second half of this game?
Both teams tried to start the quarter with haymakers, the Warriors made one of two threes while the Suns missed theirs.
But at least the energy was up!
Unfortunately, the execution lagged behind and the Suns got down 9 to the Warriors before they could even think twice, thanks to some nice Curry plays (a three, and a steal/layup).
Soon, the Warriors lead got to 14 and the Suns just couldn't do anything about it. The Warriors were just moving too fast and fluid for the Suns to handle, on both ends of the court.
Only a couple of pretty setups by Archie Goodwin to T.J. Warren and Brandan Wright let the Suns finish with 15 points in that quarter.
Again, I remind everyone that the Warriors are the #1 defense in the league and the #2 offense in the league.
The best thing about a 15-point Warriors lead and an injury to Brandon Knight is some good run by T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin to start the 4th quarter.
The Suns went on a quick 6-0 to pull the game to 9, but then gave up too many quick points right after that and the deficit was right back to 15 again when Bledsoe and Morris returned to the lineup.
Then Stephen Curry happened.
A lot of splash.