Two days after taking the Thunder to overtime in OKC, the Phoenix Suns played hard enough to discombobulate the Golden State Warriors - even getting within two points with less than a minute left - before succumbing to Curry and Durant and Draymond Green.
The Suns played hard up and down the lineup, and even kept the game within two points as late as 5:03 on the clock in the 4th.
The Suns couldn’t score for the next three minutes though, and quickly found themselves down five points despite playing desperate defense on the other end.
Final score: Warriors 106, Suns 100.
Eric Bledsoe had 21 points and T.J. Warren had 26, but they were not enough against Kevin Durant’s 35 and Stephen Curry’s 28. Tyson Chandler contributed 18 big rebounds in the middle as the Suns outrebounded the Warriors 50-41.
If only the Suns hadn’t laid an egg in the opener, more fans would believe the mantra that the Phoenix Suns will always put out maximum effort to try to overcome lack of experience and talent against better teams.
This is the Suns team most expected - not going to win a ton of games with so much youth, but playing hard enough to set a foundation for the future.
Eric Bledsoe opened the Suns scoring with a long three over Draymond Green.
Right before that, the Suns had a nice play getting Tyson Chandler on the run at the rim but he couldn’t catch up to Jared Dudley’s entry pass.
Stephen Curry made his first two catch-and-shoot opportunities after getting separation (picks) from a chasing Bledsoe. Soon after, Bledsoe committed a foul trying to get through another screen.
Curry scored the Warriors first 10 points and the Warriors posted 15 as a team before the Suns even matched Curry. T.J. Warren was cooking early but Durant’s length bothered him a couple times into misses while the Warriors converted on the other end to create the separation.
After a good timeout by Watson, the Suns went on a crowd-elating 14-0 run full of threes, back cuts to the rim and fast breaks. The Suns really exposed the Warriors lack of rim protection without Bogut out there.
Also, it helps that Klay Thompson has started the game 0-4.
All in all, it was a decisive, exciting 22-2 run for the Suns before the Warriors, who still had Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry out there, put in a late 5-0 burst.
30-22 Suns after one.
The Warriors opened the second quarter determined to get the lead back, running KD and Klay out there against the Suns kiddie unit. Dragan Bender actually fared well against Durant defensively, but once again that particular group had a tough time scoring the ball.
After a minute to adjust, Marquese Chriss and Bender had good runs. Bender picked up fouls, but defended Durant pretty well. Chriss was active on both ends, grabbing 3 rebounds and two steals, while scoring 5 points in just 5 minutes.
The Warriors kept trying to make runs, but the Suns stayed calm played their game kept the lead. A lot of the Suns scoring was either at the rim or from behind the three point line.
The Suns had a 9-point lead at 54-45 until things got weird, and KD made some shots, and suddenly it was a measly 57-55 Suns lead at half.
Kevin Durant (19) and Steph Curry (18) had 37 of their team’s 55 points at the half.
Disappointing ending to a very good Suns half. But that’s Warriors for you.
Injury note: after missing all 4 first-half shots, Devin Booker went to the locker room early, but returned for the second half.
He missed another couple of open shots to start the second half, but then made a fall-to-the-side three at the shot clock buzzer to break the seal on the rim.
Booker’s three broke a 7-2 run to start the half for the Warriors, tying the game at 62-62.
The teams traded shots for a bit before the Warriors finally began to create some separation, getting up 76-70 to force a Suns timeout.
But the Suns wouldn’t entirely go away, battling to keep it close. At the end of the quarter, the Warriors lead was just three, 81-78. Could have been worse.
T.J. Warren had 22 points at the end of three - his first career back-to-back 20-point games.
Brandon Knight led the charge at the start of the fourth quarter with his effort in transition, and he drew a foul as well.
The Suns took the lead back at 82-81 on an LB jumper.
They kept it close all quarter, even while going with FOUR GUARDS and a center. First it was Bledsoe, Knight, Barbosa, Booker and Chriss. The Len for Chriss. Finally, T.J. Warren came back in for Knight, giving the Suns a bit of balance.
Yet they kept it to 2-4 points until late in the 4th but Durant and Curry were just too much to handle.