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.
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.