While the Suns’ players were busy fighting among themselves on the bench, the Warriors spent the evening throwing jabs at Phoenix’s defense from behind the three-point line. Golden State’s prolific shooting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 10 triples and 50 points to help the Warriors reach the All-Star break with a never-before-seen record of 48-4.
1) Remember in high school on the last day before a long holiday break how everyone (faculty and students alike) would walk around listless, palpably counting the minutes before the day finally came to a merciless end? That’s how this game looked and felt. Passes were ricocheting off feet; players were grabbing boards and falling out of bounds; rebounds were hitting the floor; and balls that hit waiting hands still managed to go out of bounds for a turnover. And this was just in the fourth quarter. Both teams shot sub-45%, but the Warriors, a far superior team, can be indifferent on the court and still pull out an easy victory. Golden state got a balanced attack on offense (41 bench points) and played just enough defense (18 Suns TO, 44% shooting) to come away with an 8-point win in a game that was far less competitive than the final score might suggest.
2) Some impressive stats: The Warriors have the best record ever after 52 games. They’re on an 11-game winning streak, after the 24-game streak to start the year. They have 42 consecutive victories at home. They’re 12-1 on the second game of a back-to-back. They have only one legitimate loss all season (to Detroit). They have three All-Stars. No player averages more than 34 minutes a game. They need to go only 25-5 down the stretch to finish with the best record in NBA history. All this to say that the second half of the season is going to be really fun.
3) Andrew Bogut was again active in the paint thwarting shots (3 blocks) and grabbing rebounds (9). Bogues was plus-16 in only 23 minutes of game action. He took a hard fall in the fourth so the break comes at a fortuitous time.
4) One of my favorite non-basketball things about watching Bogut is seeing how sunburned his face is after the All-Star break. Happens every year. The guy always comes back looking like a lobster, probably having spent a wonderful time in an unimaginably beautiful island in the Pacific. I wish I were Andrew Bogut.
5) We knew Devin Booker could shoot, but at only 19-years-old he might already be ahead of where Klay Thompson is in terms of play-making and handling the ball. With Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight both out, Booker played lead-guard in the offense and looked decent doing it, connecting with Tyson Chandler for three dunks off the pick and roll. He finished with 15 points,10 assists and 7 rebounds. Sure, he overthrow a few lob passes into the post, but the future looks bright for the 6’6″ rookie who is currently hitting 40% from deep and averaging 16.6 points in his last 5 games. Interesting tidbit: his dad Melvin scored 16 points for the Warriors in the 1996-1997 season.
6) Curry’s left-handed behind-the-back passes are ridiculous. After hitting Iguodala perfectly in stride in the previous game in one of the prettiest sequences you’ll see all year, Steph found Klay on the wing and dropped a dime square in his bread basket for a three.
7) Good looking out: In the final game before a weeklong break, Steve Kerr made sure every Warrior got some time on the floor. Each player scored a bucket except Jason Thompson, who didn’t attempt a shot.
8) Marreese Speights as stretch-center might need to be stretched a little less. He went 0-2 from three-point but was wise enough to pull back on a third attempt. He’s hitting a respectable 35% from downtown on the season.
9) Markieff Morris had no problem going against Draymond Green’s defense, scoring 19 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. With Morris’ trade value at an all time low, I was previously in the camp that a team that has to face the Warriors in the playoffs should give the troubled forward a look. But after yet another altercation on bench, this time in a tussle with Archie Goodwin, it might be time to abandon the “Morris can help a contender” train of thought. Team chemistry matters and Morris is like a volatile substance that can either be a cure for the Warriors or the final ingredient that blows up the lab.
10) These are good times to be a Warriors fan: the team already has 48 wins and it’s still early February. For some perspective, in the 2007-2008 season, the Baron Davis-led Dubs became the first team in NBA history to miss the playoffs after amassing 48 victories. The number “48” will always remind me of that year. Missing the playoffs was a tough pill to swallow then, but these current Warriors are helping to wash away the bad memories.