Jeff Hornacek has longed for his team to play smarter.
When it came down to it, he wanted individual defenders to know who they were guarding. And against the shooting stars of the Golden State Warriors, that actually simplifies things: stick to your man, stop from helping if you can help it, and stay accountable in not being beaten off the bounce.
Well, that’s easier said than done, but the Suns for the second time this year got cooked by the Warriors, 128-103, as if they’d set the garbage fire with their flaming scouting reports.
Phoenix looked truly bad against a 24-1 team, a rested and testy one coming off its first loss of the season. The Suns played with Golden State for nearly two full quarters, but all along it felt like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson would soon start making the open shots and get that 12th cylinder in their usually-efficient offense firing.
Take it for what it is: Phoenix hit a historically ridiculous team and played into its strengths, turning the ball over for 29 Warriors points scored off the 21 Suns mishaps.
— NBA (@NBA) December 17, 2015
The Suns didn’t head into Wednesday looking consistent on offense, and they certainly have been far from finding answers on the defensive end.
The bad judgement calls defensively may be the most frustrating part.
In any case, Suns fans may seethe over the loss. Or, they can believe this is just a single bump in a long road.
Whatever the case, these are the ugly facts from the Suns’ loss on Wednesday night.
• The Warriors outscored Phoenix 46-19 in the third quarter, with Thompson chipping in 27 of his 43 total points in that span. Twelve of Thompson’s 43 were categorized as fastbreak points. Stephen Curry scored 13 of his 25 points in that third, while Draymond Green earned six assists — Green finished with his second triple double in as many games against the Suns.
• Golden State, in its first meeting with Phoenix, hit 22 threes, a make off the NBA record for a game. On pace to sniff that again with 15 makes in the first three quarters, the Warriors didn’t make a trey in the fourth quarter after at one point in the third building a lead as great as 41 points.
• What’s more remarkable is that the Warriors hardly needed threes after halftime. They took 10 threes the second half because 17 of their 39 total looks — that’s nearly half — were at the rim, and easy ones at that. The Dubs hit 15 of those attempts, and you can guess why …
• A lot of this has to do, again, with the turnovers and bad offense — a pick-and-roll followed by a long two-point jumper. That killed the Suns in transition, where the Warriors scored 32 points. In the third alone, Curry scored eight points off turnovers. Thirteen of his total followed Suns mistakes. Additionally, Thompson (12 points) and Curry (10 points) scored a large handful in transition opportunities.
• If you’re into Morey-ball, which naturally favors shots at the rim and behind the three-point line over mid-range jumpers, then you’ll cringe to see this. Phoenix took 35 mid-range shots and hit just 15 (43 percent) as Golden State took just 11. That said, it’s worth noting that the Suns only hit 5-of-22 three-point attempts (23 percent) to the Warriors’ 15-of-32 (47 percent). In short, the Dubs have better shooters and were also getting better jump shots, no matter where we’re talking about on the court.
• And to close, Warriors center Andrew Bogut didn’t score a bucket but ended up with the best plus-minus (Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News has a funny Q&A about that). The Warriors outscored the Suns by 42 points in his 21 minutes on the court.
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