Five games into his tenure as interim head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Earl Watson is still searching for that first win.
It’s a search that will now be put on hold for the NBA All-Star break.
Nine days he and the Suns must wait.
That’s a mere drop in the bucket compared to the Pacific Ocean-sized gap (in time and obviously talent) they appear to be from the league’s elite teams, like Golden State.
The Warriors showed just how far away the Suns are with 112-104 victory in front of a sold-out crowd, many of whom could be heard chanting “Warriors” late in the fourth quarter at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday night.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 50 points and 10 of their team’s 14 made 3-pointers in extending the Warriors’ win streak to 11—tied for the fourth-longest in franchise history—and the best start in NBA history, 48-4.
Curry, the league’s reigning MVP, scored 12 in the first quarter, six in the second and eight in the third before sitting out the fourth, the 15th time this season he’s skipped the final period — leaving him a rebound and an assist shy of a triple-double.
It was the Warriors sixth straight win over the Suns, who were outscored 28-15 in the second quarter and trailed by as many as 22 in the third.
Five Suns players scored in double figures with Archie Goodwin leading the way with 20.
Markieff Morris added 19 and Mirza Teletovic 14, while Devin Booker (15 points and 10 assists) and Tyson Chandler (13 points and 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles.
Booker’s assist total marked a career-high, giving him his second career double-double.
Chandler recorded his ninth double-double of the season and third in the past six games.
The Suns (14-40) have lost nine straight and 24 of 26 overall.
After falling behind by eight early in the game, the Suns went on an 8-0 run during which time Booker twice threw alley-oop lobs to Chandler, who dunked on the first pass and made the lay-up on the second; the latter tied the game, 17-17, at 6:03 of the first quarter. Booker also hit a 20-foot pull-up jumper for two of his team-best seven points.
Once again, Teletovic provided instant offense off the bench. He scored eight straight points upon checking into the game in the third quarter. Teletovic first hit a 3 (which ended a streak of 10 consecutive Suns misses from beyond the arc), then a pair of free throws before adding a second 3 to pull the Suns to within 11, 81-70, at 1:59 of the period.
While Teletovic was good, Goodwin was better in the third quarter, at least in terms of putting the ball in the basket. He shot four-of-six with all four made field goals coming on lay-ups; the last of which he was fouled and hit the free throw for a three-point play to give him a team-best nine points in the period. Goodwin also added a rebound.
The last nine Suns’ points were scored by Goodwin, including a dunk with 4.9 seconds to play for the final margin of defeat. Goodwin also made two lay-ups, a 21-foot jump shot and 3-pointer, his one and only of the game. Add in his two assists and he had a hand in 12 of the team’s 21 points after re-entering the game at 6:26 of the period.
Ten of the Warriors’ first 13 points of the game were either scored or assisted by Curry, who had five points and two assists in the opening 1:44. He finished the period with game-highs in points (12) and assists (four), meaning he accounted for 21 of his team’s 29 first-quarter points. Oh, Curry also added five rebounds.
Six more points—on a pair of 3-pointers—and two more assists for Curry came in the second quarter; all of which came during a 16-0 Warriors run to give them their largest lead of the half, 53-35, at 2:15 of the period. Thompson tied Curry for high-point honors in the period; and like Curry, his six points—one 3-pointer—were scored in the run.
During one stretch of the second quarter, the Suns missed 10 straight shots and went nearly six minutes (5:55) between made field goals. The Suns shot just 31.8 percent (7-of-22) in the period and 41.9 percent (18-of-43) in the half, which saw the home team clang 20 of their final 28 attempts, including nine in a row from beyond the arc.
As they did in the second quarter, Curry and Thompson shared team-high scoring honors in the third. They each dropped eight points on the Suns defense. Curry went 3-of-7 with a 3-pointer, while Thompson made 3 of 6 shot attempts, including a pair of 3s; the second of which put the Warriors up 22, 76-54, at 5:54.
STAT OF THE GAME
45.9: The combined shooting percentage of Curry and Thompson (17-of-37), while the rest of the Warriors shot 35.1 percent (20-of-52)
HE SAID IT
“It’s Golden State, they put you in a lot of unique situations,” Watson said. “I think for the first part of the game into the second quarter we played well. We always have one quarter where we struggle with points. Eventually we get 20 points a game back from Brandon Knight, we get Ronnie Price intangibles; Archie can go to his natural spot, Devin can play less minutes but be effective still, and then Markieff has more shooters around the perimeter.”
– The Warriors have now won 20 straight games against divisional opponents. Their last loss within the Pacific Division came Dec. 25, 2014 vs. the Clippers.
– Goodwin reached double figures in scoring for a career-high fifth straight game and Morris had a season-high-tying sixth straight game, last done Oct. 30-Nov. 8.
– Morris shoved Goodwin as the two argued on the bench and later had to be separated by teammates and coaches during a timeout 3:26 into the first quarter.
– As part of the Suns’ efforts to celebrate Black History Month, Ring of Honor member Walter Davis was recognized during the first timeout of the first quarter.
– As part of SixthMan Suns Appreciation Night, the team wore special #WeAre6 t-shirts during pregame warmups and then their purple uniforms for the game.
– Among those in attendance were Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
The Suns’ season-long seven-game homestand will resume on Friday, Feb. 19, the day after the trade deadline, with a matchup against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
It’s the second meeting of the homestand.
Back on Feb. 4, the Suns led big (15), trailed big (11) then re-took the lead before the Rockets eventually went on a late fourth-quarter run (11-2) to secure a 111-105 victory.
Corey Brewer scored a game-high 24 points, while Goodwin led the Suns with 22 points and seven assists. Len grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds to go along with 12 points. Booker added 17 points, including 9-of-10 from the free throw line as the Suns shot 30-of-32 from the stripe.
Overall, the Rockets have won six of the last seven matchups.
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