OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors attracted enviable accolades with their historic win streak, but everything about sustaining success turned burdensome.
"I'm not going to miss it, not at all, started to get draining,” Draymond Green said of the bygone streak on Tuesday at practice. The very thing that garnered the Warriors so much praise was the very thing, perhaps, weighing them down. And as they got ragged, their play turned stilted, sloppy. They got, as Green put it, “too Steph heavy.”
Wednesday night’s hosting of the Phoenix Suns, Golden State’s first home game in two weeks, displayed an unburdened Warriors team. The Suns might have caught the Warriors at the exact wrong time, suffering a 128-103 ruination on Wednesday that was worse than the score indicated.
The game didn’t start out as a slaughter. Stephen Curry came out trying to set up teammates, perhaps to the point of overpassing on a few plays. The offense was finding success, but missing some shots. The Warriors were even trailing by two with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
What followed was sustained brutality disguised as fun, up-and-down hoops. In a 19-minute span, the Warriors outscored the Suns 67-25. In the second quarter, the Warriors scored 46 points, the highest amount scored in any quarter this season. In the second and third quarters, the Warriors scored 79 total points.
Amid the deluge, you’d be hard pressed to find a better combined performance from the big three of Curry, Klay Thompson and Green. Thompson was on one of his rolls in which he’s shooting before the ball even gets to his hands -- scoring 27 points in the third quarter, 43 in his 31 minutes of play. Klay’s hot streak burned brightest when he was guarded by Suns rookie Devin Booker, a shooter in Thompson’s mold, who paid a steep price for his education on Wednesday.
Thompson’s recent run of play has been a welcome development for a team looking to get less “Steph heavy.” After the game, Curry noted that the offense had recently been too focused on feeding him the ball and needed to diversify. He and the team made a point to share it at the start of this homestand. Curry said of the unselfishness, “That's how we play. We don't play that kind of one-on-one style, just searching for one guy.” He then smiled and conceded, “Unless it's Klay in the third quarter.”
Green also helped mightily in taking the load off Curry. In addition to delivering a maestro defensive performance replete with thwarted alley oops, Green found time to bring the ball up and push the pace in transition. By the time he sat in the third quarter, Green had tallied a triple-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Curry wasn’t exactly obscured in the background of action, either. He finished with a coolly brilliant 25 points and seven assists in 30 minutes. He ceded much of the control, but still got his nightly dose of Vine highlights and impressive statistics.
Andrew Bogut's performance was a little more subtle than everyone else’s. He went scoreless, not even attempting a shot. It would be a mistake to assume a bad game based on that detail. Due in part to Bogut’s excellent rim protection and incisive passing, the Warriors outscored the Suns by 42 points in the Aussie center’s 21 minutes of action.
It remains to be seen whether this is what the rest of Golden State’s homestand will look like, but “We don't play that kind of one-on-one style” is a good slogan for future success. The Warriors had lost themselves a bit while never losing. Now that the streak is over, they can channel their unselfish impulses into a greedier kind of victory.