Warriors

Warriors Under Review: Bench comes to the rescue in victory over Suns

iguodala-andre-smile-coy.jpg
USATSI

Warriors Under Review: Bench comes to the rescue in victory over Suns

When you’ve beaten an opponent 17 consecutive times, and that opponent on this particular night is ambivalent about winning, it’s easy to cozy up to complacency.

That would explain the performance of the Warriors on Friday night in Phoenix. They showed up expecting to tap dance on the heads of the Suns, only to discover the Suns weren’t in the mood for it.

It took the Warriors about 42 minutes to bring things to their natural order, achieving a 117-107 victory at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

Here are some of the positives and negatives from the Warriors’ 11th consecutive road win and their 18th straight victory over the Suns:

 

POSITIVE

Bench brings the energy

The Warriors were off an atrocious start, down by 11 (18-7) six minutes after tipoff and by 17 (26-9) two minutes later. Enter Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney, and Jonas Jerebko and, shortly thereafter, Quinn Cook, leaving Kevin Durant as the only starter. That group outscored the Suns 17-5 over the final four minutes – with an 11-0 finish. They did it with defense and hustle. They were playing to win.

The Suns didn’t exactly go away, but they never had another double-digit lead.

 

NEGATIVE

Rebounding fundamentals MIA

The total rebounding numbers were just fine, as the Warriors came away with a 49-48 advantage. But they spent way too much time standing flat-footed as various Phoenix players – Kelly Oubre Jr. in particular – ran around or jumped over them for offensive rebounds. The Suns had 14 in the first half but only five in the second half, after the Warriors woke up. That was enough for Phoenix to get up 20 more shots (101-81), resulting in 25 second-chance points.

Being indifferent on the defensive glass a dangerous game to play, and the Warriors got away with it because they were playing a team that made only 40 percent of its second-chance shots.

 

NEGATIVE

The return of Santa

The Warriors through most of January did a nice of taking care of the ball, averaging 12.9 turnovers per game. They handed out seven gifts – all by the starters – in the first quarter, giving Phoenix 9 points. They lost dribbles, tried to throw passes through keyholes and generally carried on as if they were scrimmaging at the Y. They eventually got it together somewhat but still finished with 18 turnovers, off which the Suns scored 22 points.

No excuse for most of the giveaways. Just a team believing it could get away with being sloppy – and did.

 

POSITIVE

Boogie takes another step

DeMarcus Cousins had a gloriously mixed bag of an evening, great moments and forgettable sequences in near equal parts. The highs: 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, solid defense on Suns big man Deandre Ayton (after the first quarter) and a season-high 27 minutes – after pleading for more playing time. The lows: Cousins committed four turnovers and Ayton had his way early (12 points, 6-of-7 shooting in the first quarter).

This was Cousins’ ninth game. He’s still a work in progress, but he continues to produce during the process.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 124-122 overtime loss to Knicks

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 124-122 overtime loss to Knicks

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the battle of the worst teams in the NBA, the Warriors came up short.

In their latest effort -- a 124-122 overtime loss to the dysfunctional Knicks (5-20) at Chase Center -- the Warriors (5-21) were bullied from the start as New York built a 22-point first-half lead. 

For much of the season, Golden State's veteran core has been warned that these types of starts will not end in its favor, considering the Warriors' lack of talent. On Wednesday, the team didn't take heed to the message, losing their second straight game. 

Here are the takeaways.

Warriors get bullied early

Bad starts have been the norm for this iteration of the Warriors and Wednesday was no different. Through the first 24 minutes, the Knicks built an 18-point halftime lead as Julius Randle, Marcus Morris Sr., and rookie RJ Barrett scored 44 points combined through the first two quarters.

The Warriors responded after halftime, outscoring the Knicks 37-21 over a stretch in the second half and showed the effort they should have put forth at the beginning of the game. D'Angelo Russell sent the game into overtime with a late 3-pointer.

In previous years, with a star-studded roster, Golden State could afford such starts with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson looming in the wings. Now, with a younger cast, these types of starts can't happen. 

Solid game from Draymond Green

In a season he's not expected to score, Green did just that Wednesday evening, finishing with 14 points in 34 minutes. 

Playing mostly point forward role, he grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 12 assists, helping Russell and Glenn Robinson reach double figures. With three minutes left in regulation, Green found Russell for a 3-pointer to bring the Warriors within two points. On the next possession, he grabbed a rebound, found Russell again, leading to another score to tie the game. 

This year has been a trying one for the three-time champion as he's trading wins for lessons, putting his arms around the young roster. But as he showed, Wednesday, he's still got some game. 

Eric Paschall rookie wall?

Sure looks like it after his latest output. In 17 minutes, Paschall finished with just six points on 2-of-6 from the field. Entering Wednesday, he was one of the best rookies in the league. However, he's shooting just 39 percent from the field over his last three games as a hip injury is impeding his progress. 

In Wednesday's loss, he was battered, frequently grimacing, even after jamming his hand. 

No matter how good Paschall was at the start of the season, a rookie wall was inevitable. His response in the coming days will be vital.

Watch rehabbing Klay Thompson hit half-court shot at Chase Center

Watch rehabbing Klay Thompson hit half-court shot at Chase Center

Klay Thompson has yet to play a game at Chase Center, but on Wednesday night, he was seen shooting on the Warriors' new home court.

Prior to the Warriors' game against the Knicks, Thompson spent a few minutes shooting and even nailed a half-court shot.

A day earlier, the All-Star shooting guard was seen shooting after Warriors practice.

Thompson is rehabbing from surgery on his left ACL and is still months away from returning to game action.

With the Warriors mired in a 5-20 season, fans will take all the positive developments they can get.

[RELATED: Ayesha says Steph's injury was 'really, really bad']

We'll be honest: It's good to see Klay's sweet stroke again.