They came out on a mission, sizzling from the start, seemingly determined to dispel any hint of a hangover, be it from eating too much turkey or in the wake of setting an NBA record for wins to open a season.
It became quickly evident Friday night that Warriors guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson understood that the surest way to beat the Suns, and protect their perfect record, is to outplay their guards.
Curry and Thompson made a resounding statement upon taking the court at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix, igniting a 44-point first quarter that set in motion a 135-116 rout that lifted the Warriors’ record to 17-0.
Curry and Thompson combined for 29 first-quarter points, as the entire Suns team put up 27. Suns guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight combined for nine in the opening quarter, all by Bledsoe.
Authority established, it was all Warriors from there. No hangover whatsoever, as Curry informed reporters in the postgame locker room.
“No, we have an edge,” said Curry, who finished with a game-high 41 points. “We love the feeling of winning and our confidence is high right now. That’s the only thing that really motivates us.
“I know the divisions don’t really mean much anymore, but a divisional game, a team we play four times, we’ve had a little more success in the last couple of years here than we did my first five. We remember that stuff even when we play well against a team that has a lot of talent and a lot of explosive guys. You can find anything that motivates you and I think everybody does that individually and collectively as a group here.”
The Warriors poured in 15 3-pointers in the first half, setting an NBA record for treys in a half. They made 22 shots from beyond the arc, a franchise record, on 38 attempts.
Bledsoe and Knight combined for 42 points (21 apiece), but most of their damage was done in futile attempts to close a double-digit deficit.
As if the Curry-Thompson duo were not enough, reserve guard Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score 21 points (on 8-of-9 shooting), the most in the year-plus he has spent with the Warriors.
“We have so many options, so many weapons,” Barbosa said. “Tonight was one of those nights that (Curry) was really hot. And when he’s hot he makes things happen.”
Despite committing a season-high 24 turnovers, the Warriors brought far too much offense for a Suns team that was willing to play fast, perhaps with visions of keeping pace with the league’s top team.
“Yeah they’re a tough team to guard, they shoot 3s like lay-ups,” Phoenix forward Markieff Morris told reporters. “If you give them a second with an open shot, for the most part they’re making all of them.”
The Suns ran with the Warriors, but couldn’t shoot with the defending champs. They learned what 16 previous opponents have learned, that the Warriors are devastatingly productive in a variety of ways.
“We’ve come to expect great things from our guys,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “They did it again tonight. We normally get every team’s best shot when we come in, and our guys have started to get used to that and started to really accept that challenge.”
The Warriors ran their overall win streak to 21 with such dominance that Walton allowed Draymond Green the opportunity to polish his personal resume. The coach was ready to sit Green in the final minutes, with the game out of reach, but Green talked his way into a few more seconds – enough to get another rebound and certify his triple-double.
“He wanted back in,” Walton said. “I didn’t realize he was one rebound short, or otherwise I would have left him in.
“I was more concerned with the back-to-back we have coming up. He does so much for us, and he’s such an unselfish player and works so hard that if he’s one rebound away from a triple-double, I have no problem getting him back in there.”
So the Warriors continue to roll, with no end in sight. The Sacramento Kings come to Oracle on Saturday night, no doubt ready to give it their best shot. So far in this incredible Warriors season, best shots have not been good enough.