Warriors Under Review: Champs unravel at Oracle, lose to lowly Suns

Warriors Under Review: Champs unravel at Oracle, lose to lowly Suns

OAKLAND – The Phoenix Suns dragged into Oracle Arena about 17 hours after seven-point loss at Portland with a record, 15-52, that put them 31 games behind the Warriors in the Western Conference standings.

The Suns were eliminated from the playoffs last month, six weeks before they begin.

And for a while Phoenix looked the part of a team looking ahead to an April vacation, scoring 11 points in the first nine minutes while the Warriors were rolling up 27.

But Phoenix owned all but a few of the final 39 minutes, outscoring the Warriors 104-84 and leaving the home team chewing on and stewing over a 115-111 loss.

Here are some positives and negatives from the Warriors’ sixth loss in 10 games:


The 2/4 pattern continues

The Warriors were outscored 40-28 in the second quarter, 36-31 in the fourth, putting them at minus-17 for those two quarters. They were plus-9 for those quarters Friday against Denver, minus-21 last Tuesday against Boston, minus-11 March 2 at Philadelphia, minus-20 Feb. 28 at Orlando.

A clear pattern has developed. The Warriors usually open those quarters with a lineup that has neither Stephen Curry nor Kevin Durant. The offense stagnates, their lead shrinks or their deficit grows. The Suns shot 71.4 percent in the second quarter and 50 percent in the fourth. That’s where they won the game.

Coach Steve Kerr implied that he’ll be considering changes. That seems like an excellent idea.


Crunch time collapse

While the Suns are a young team building for the future, the Warriors are veterans of many NBA wars, including 83 postseason games over the past four years. They know pressure, and they drink it like water.

Yet it was the Warriors who crumbled late, committing seven turnovers in the fourth quarter. Leading by one (98-97) with 5:18 to play, they committed four turnovers inside the final five minutes, with two aiding a 12-0 Phoenix run. Klay Thompson had two of his six in the fourth, Curry two of his three.

Maybe the absence of Durant, who left with 6:34 remaining after sustaining a right ankle contusion, put them into a panic. Still, given their pedigree, this was shocking.


’Zo may be onto something

Alfonzo McKinnie, whose playing time has been irregular, made his only 3-point attempt, draining it from the right corner. It might not seem like much, but it gave him back-to-back games with at least one triple for the first time since Dec. 12.

The Warriors have struggled to generate offense from their bench. Anyone who can make a 3 will earn minutes.


Frozen 3s

When Thompson buried his first two 3-pointers, it suggested carryover from Friday when he was scorching, making 9-of-11 from deep. Thompson made only two more triples, in 13 attempts, finishing 4-of-15. Curry also was 4-of-15 from deep. Durant was 1-of-4, while DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green each went 0-of-3.

The Warriors, despite numerous open looks, shot 23.3 percent (10-of-43) from beyond the arc. They sometimes live by the 3. On this night, it was among the factors that led to defeat.

Klay Thompson proclaims Warriors' championship dynasty 'far from over'


Klay Thompson proclaims Warriors' championship dynasty 'far from over'

All the national pundits and talking heads have danced on the grave of the Warriors' dynasty.

With Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston gone, and Klay Thompson out for a large portion of the upcoming season after ACL surgery, most believe the Warriors' reign of dominance is over.

But Thompson isn't listening to the noise. The Warriors might be down, but they aren't out.

"The dynasty ain't over," Klay said Friday during the second annual Thompson Family Foundation golf tournament in Newport Beach, Calif. "It's far from over."

After five season atop the NBA mountain, the Warriors no longer are the favorites to win the title, and they will look vastly different this season.

At the beginning of the season, Steph Curry and Draymond Green will be flanked by newcomers D'Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein. Instead of Durant at the starting small forward spot, Warriors coach Steve Kerr might go with Alfonzo McKinnie.

Super Death Lineup this is not.

Making matters tougher for the Warriors is the improvement of other teams in the Western Conference. The Clippers, Lakers, Jazz and Rockets all made blockbuster moves over the summer, while the Nuggets and Blazers return teams that were top-four playoff seeds in the West last season.

But once Thompson returns in February or March, the Warriors will be able to close games with a lineup of Curry, Thompson, Russell, Green and Kevon Looney, who signed a three-year contract in the offseason.

[RELATED: Eight things Warriors need to do to make playoffs]

As Green said last week, no one will want to face the Warriors in the playoffs. That will be especially true if Thompson is 100 percent in April.

Durant isn't around anymore, but the dynasty isn't dead until Curry, Thompson and Green say it is.

Magic Johnson can't believe Kevin Durant was unhappy with Warriors

Magic Johnson can't believe Kevin Durant was unhappy with Warriors

Kevin Durant came to the Warriors in 2016 in pursuit of a family and NBA titles.

Despite all the winning the Warriors did with Durant, he told the Wall Street Journal last week that he never quite felt like one of the guys. That possibly had something to do with him refusing to commit long term to the Warriors. It's hard for a family to accept you when you have one foot in the house and the other on the front porch.

NBA legend Magic Johnson can't begin to fathom Durant's logic in leaving for the Brooklyn Nets after three seasons and two championships in the Bay.

"KD, I hope that he finds happiness," Johnson said Friday on ESPN's First Take. "If you can't find happiness at Golden State, where are you going to find it at?

“First of all, give Steph Curry a lot of credit for saying, 'I'm a two-time MVP. I'm willing to take a backseat because I want to win.' Give Klay Thompson a lot of credit, because you know whose game suffered the most? Klay Thompson. He used to get a lot more touches before KD got there, and he said, 'I'm OK with that as long as we win a championship.' Draymond Green, even he had to take a backseat.

"So, Kevin, if you won back-to-back titles, you won MVP of the Finals as well, where are you going to find happiness at? I just want him to find happiness because when I look at Michael Jordan, when I look at Kobe Bryant, this brother, Kevin Durant, is one of the greatest scorers we've seen in NBA history, so I just want him to be happy. I just don't know where he's going to find it at if he can't find it at Golden State."

We imagine every single Warriors fan feels the same way as Magic does.

[RELATED: Durant shows no sign of limp after surgery]

Unlike Thunder fans, Warriors fans don't hold any ill will toward Durant. They're just puzzled by his decision to leave. He had everything he wanted in the Bay Area, and Golden State could have offered more money. Yet he still decided to leave.

But maybe Durant never will be happy in the same spot for too long. It's possible that in three years, Nets fans find themselves wondering why Durant wasn't happy, just like Warriors fans are right now.