The Suns put together a balanced attack on offense to rebound from three straight losses and beat the Warriors, 114-93, at home.
Backup center Frank Kaminsky had possibly his best game in two years with the Suns, posting a near-triple double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists. Only a pair missed layups (on fouls) kept Frank from the surprising milestone.
And backup guard Abdel Nader attacked the rim at will, broke down the Golden State defense over and over, and finished with season highs of 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
The whole starting lineup for the Suns also posted double figures in scoring, and the team had 34 assists on 41 made shots.
A really great get-better game from the Suns.
Again, the Suns entered the game looking to push the tempo, and got out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to quick decisions in transition. Chris Paul knocked down a floater, then Cameron Johnson hit a deep three, and the offense looked to be in great rhythm.
But the Warriors’ transition defense responded. With Draymond Green calling out assignments and the team’s length working for them, Golden State quieted the Suns’ offense. Then Steph Curry started doing his usual stuff, generating threes for himself and his teammates, and things evened up pretty quickly.
The Suns led by just 4 at the 4:26 mark when Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder checked out.
It was a strong early stint for Ayton, who came out determined to impact the game more than last night. Ayton hit the bench with six points on 3-3 shooting and four rebounds.
Rather than Jevon Carter, who I predicted might see some time on Curry, it was Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore who were the first guards off the bench, despite the fact that Galloway had been out of the rotation for several games. Moore missed two gimmes and stayed cold, while Galloway nailed a three minutes after entering the game.
The Suns continued to make their threes and went into the second up seven, 36-29.
Without Devin Booker in the game, Paul opened the second quarter on the floor and knocked down a quick bucket.
Before long, though, Golden State responded with a run, led by backup big Eric Paschall, to take a one-point lead. As with most nights, the Suns’ threes momentarily ran dry and the opponent matched that with a few scoring possessions in a row.
Surprisingly it was Abdel Nader who took the lid off the hoop a bit and got back in rhythm with a drive to the hoop.
Nader started the game 0-5 but was able to get into the teeth of the defense and then it rubbed off on Johnson, who found a layup of his own shortly after. Golden State called a timeout with the Suns up five, 46-41.
The next few minutes passed with some pretty poor play by both teams until Ayton checked back in and scored four quick points, including getting fouled on a lob and making his free throws. Ayton went into the half with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns led, 52-47, at halftime.
To start the second half, Curry was back in his bag, scoring eight quick points and proving evasive even as Bridges chased him around screens and Ayton got in his face. However, the Suns parried Curry’s shot creation by making four threes in the first six minutes of the period.
After a Bridges two, the Suns were up 10 midway through the quarter.
This partly was because Golden State shot poorly from two-point range all night, with James Wiseman and Suns fan favorite Kelly Oubre Jr. failing to put pressure on the rim like they usually do. The Warriors at this point in the game were shooting worse than 39 percent from two.
With 3:56 left in the period, Phoenix challenged a foul call on Moore and lost it.
But the Suns continued to work the offense, move the ball, and score even without Paul on the court. Maybe most importantly, they got to the free-throw line, led by Bridges’ six attempts, Crowder’s six attempts, and three from Frank Kaminsky. It’s not a huge jump up, but even around 23 free throws like they had tonight will help the Suns become less reliant on jump shots.
The Suns entered the fourth up 14, 85-71.
A cavalcade of Kaminsky assists gave the Suns a 20-point lead pretty quickly, giving the coaching staff a game’s worth of film to prove they can win by playing with pace, moving the ball, and committing on defense, even if their best players are out or they don’t make a ton of triples.