OAKLAND – This could have been a trap game for the Warriors, sandwiched between their first loss of the season, at the end of a long road trip, and the rematch with the team that delivered it.
But, no. After a mediocre first quarter the Warriors on Wednesday night busted through the trap, leaving it in tiny pieces scattered across the floor at Oracle Arena.
Scattered along with the debris that was the Phoenix Suns, who were helpless to prevent a 128-103 Warriors rout.
“We had that road trip hangover in the first quarter,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “We just weren’t sharp. We were trying to do things the right way and we had some good looks, but we weren’t sharp with what we were doing.”
Then came the second quarter, when the Warrior turned savage on the Suns. Trailing by four with five minutes left the quarter, the Warriors closed the half with a 21-4 run.
Coming out firing in the third quarter, the Warriors made a statement. With Klay Thompson scoring 27 of his season-high 43 points, the Warriors outscored Phoenix 46-19 to knock out the Suns.
“We didn’t want to come out – which we did in the first quarter and probably the first half of the second quarter until the second unit changed it – with that after-a-long-road-trip hangover, no energy,” Draymond Green said. “So we needed to come back and get a win.”
They got it with Thompson’s offense, Curry’s mere presence, Green’s comprehensive brilliance and the all-around the defense of Andrew Bogut, who did not take a shot yet finished plus-42 for the game.
The Warriors opened the second half by limiting Phoenix to one basket and forcing four Phoenix turnovers in the first three minutes. The result was a 70-49 Warriors lead that never came close to being threatened.
“In that second and third quarter we really did a good job of taking care of the basketball,” Walton said. “When we take care of the ball and get after it on defense and it also helps when Klay or Steph (Curry) have one of those type shooting runs that Klay went on tonight. We were playing at the height of our game in the second and third quarter.”
The Warriors (25-1) initially were concerned because the first game after a long road trip – they were away for two full weeks – typically is sloppy with the possibility of lethargy. But after two full days off, all they needed was a few minutes to find a rhythm.
They held the Suns to 33.3-percent shooting in the second quarter, and then tightened it to 26.8 percent in the third. Phoenix shot 31 percent, while committing 13 turnovers in the middle quarters.
It as such a sound victory that Green’s triple-double – 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists – got lost in the praise showered upon Thompson. Or maybe it’s just that the Warriors and their fans have gotten comfortable with Green either getting a triple-double (he’s tied for the NBA lead with four) or coming close nearly every game.
“I didn’t even know he had one until after the game,” Walton said. “But it’s the way it should be, with the way we play and how much attention Steph draws and how good of a player Draymond is and how smart of a player he is.
“We want the ball in his hands. We want him playmaking. We want him, anytime he gets a rebound, pushing it. If he’s hitting his shots, he should get over 10 points. If he’s rebounding the way he capable of, he should be right around 10 rebounds. The assists, as a forward, that’s the impressive part of it.”
Green recognized the possibility of a trap game and, with sheer will, put his teammates on notice. Thompson responded splendidly. No trap, none at all, as the Warriors rolled the Suns, who barely know what hit them.