Warriors' depth highlighted in Warriors' big Christmas win

Otto Porter

PHOENIX -- Steph Curry couldn't help but flash a sly smirk when he was asked if the Warriors' 116-107 win over the Phoenix Suns was their best win of the season. 

He looked down and collected himself before verbally responding. 

"All things considered, yeah," Curry said. "Nice win on Christmas, nice win on the road. Best record in the league. Shorthanded."

The final thing Curry listed -- the Warriors being shorthanded -- is what made their win in the Valley the most impressive. With Andre Iguodala sidelined with right knee soreness, and Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Moses Moody and Damion Lee in the NBA's health and safety protocol, the Warriors were without four of their main rotational players, not to mention two starters.

Plus four of their top assistant coaches were also placed in health and safety protocols. 

What they accomplished against the Suns was the biggest piece of evidence that supports just how deep the Warriors are. Not only do they have multiple options of who they could plug into the starting lineup, but they found end-of-the-bench players who can contribute in a pinch. 

"We got a lot of guys who can play," Otto Porter Jr. said. "We already played a game, we played Memphis, without them so it was another opportunity for everybody to step up and contribute. Especially on a game like this. Everyone who came off the bench did an amazing job and we're going to continue to need them."


Porter is correct that this was the Warriors' second game without five players, but this Suns team is different than the Grizzlies. Phoenix is coming off of a trip to the NBA Finals, is one of the top three teams in the Western Conference, and have one of the healthiest rosters in the league right now. 

Yet, the Warriors' depth was able to beat them. 

Like the Grizzlies game, it always helps when Curry goes off. Against the Suns, he finished with 33 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. And in the first half, it appeared as though the Warriors wouldn't be able to survive the non-Curry minutes. But in the second half, everything started clicking.

Jonathan Kuminga led the bench unit with 12 points, while Nemanja Bjelica added 10 and Quinndary Weatherspoon, who was signed to a 10-day contract a few days ago, scored six points and took on the assignment of defending Chris Paul. 

As substitutes in the starting lineup, Gary Payton II had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Porter scored 19 points. Porter scored 13 of those points in the fourth quarter, and nine of those within a 90-second span, knocking down three consecutive 3-pointers in the clutch.

"Otto is amazing," Kerr said. "There were a couple of broken plays where he just turns them into shots, both off the dribble and catch-and-shoot. He's just added so much to our teams with his shooting from that position, and also his rebounding and defense. He's a hell of a player."

Porter joined the Warriors during the summer on a veteran minimum contract. As did Iguodala. As did Bjelica. Payton was brought in as the 15th roster spot. Kuminga is a rookie. Chiozza is on a two-way contract. Weatherspoon was called up from the G League two days ago. 

The way in which the Warriors have built out their bench and filled it with veteran players and draft picks, in addition to guys who check the boxes of being floor spreaders or defense-first guys is reminiscent of the second units during their dynastic run.

"Our front office did an amazing job putting together the roster so that when we are down bodies, we can put guys out there who can really play," Kerr said.

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It has been obvious that the Warriors have a deep team since the start of the season. But as teams have been rampaged by COVID-19 -- Golden State included -- it has becoming that much more obvious just how strong a bench they have. 

Against the other best team in the NBA, with no players in health and safety protocols, the short-handed Warriors made a statement. 

"It's all part of that progress in terms of every opportunity to take another step forward and the confidence to say you're getting better as a team," Curry said. "Tonight was a night like that for sure."


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