The Golden State Warriors cut their magic number to two with a 111-107 win over the Phoenix Suns, in a game where the Warriors were down by as many as 18. It counts as the team’s biggest comeback of the season, as well as the first time the Warriors have won three straight games in Phoenix. It’s also the second time that they have swept the season series against the Suns. Their persistence and energy throughout the game led them to a victory.
The Suns put up a good fight, and they were able to stay in the game with their hot shooting and rebounding. At halftime, the Suns were up 64-55, and they shot a blazing 66% in the first half. The Suns shot 61% for the game and outrebounded the Warriors 36-30. Mark Jackson decided to go small for the majority of the second half with David Lee and Carl Landry in the frontcourt, which allowed the Suns to outrebound the Warriors.
Golden State has a history of not playing their best when they face a team with a poor record. For example, they lost the season series against the Kings. Sorry, I’m still bitter about that. Regardless, the Warriors were able to pull out the win behind a breakout game from Klay Thompson, great ball movement, active hands on defense, and their transition game.
Thompson finally broke out of his shooting slump with 25 points, 4 steals (tying a career-high), 10-of-18 shooting, and 3-for-4 on threes. For the second straight game he seemed to make more of an effort to not settle for the three, instead getting better shots by taking the ball to the basket. However, Thompson was shooting so well that it probably didn’t matter where his shots were coming from.
Thompson’s backcourt partner, Stephen Curry, led the offense beautifully tonight. He ran the fast break to perfection and was able to bank 15 assists, which tied his career-high. Curry wasn’t quite in Human Torch Mode, but he still had a solid game, offensively and defensively, with 18 points, 15 assists, and 4 steals on 6-of-15 shooting (3-for-8 from behind the 3-point line). Also, the Splash Brothers nickname seems more fitting than ever now, since during tonight’s game, Curry and Thompson became the top three-point shooting tandem in a single NBA season with 438 made threes on 1,029 attempts.
The Splash Brothers were big contributors to the Warriors’ defense as well. The Warriors displayed active hands and read the passing lanes well, which led to a season-high 15 steals.
Phoenix might have shot lights out, but the Warriors brought the energy to this game. The Warriors looked like they wanted to run from the tip-off. They won the transition game 21-16 and were +20 in points off turnovers, which allowed them to stay in the game, even when Phoenix built up a large lead.
It’s still not clear who the Warriors could face in the playoffs, but Danilo Gallinari’s season-ending knee injury last night sure makes this playoff race interesting. If the playoffs started today, the Warriors would face the Nuggets. Most people seem to agree that the best-case scenario for the Warriors would be to face the Clippers, but a Gallo-less Nuggets team might be an interesting matchup too. The biggest concern right now though is to maintain that No. 6 spot, no matter who they might face.
The Warriors’ “Fear the Beard” Era can come to an end (thankfully) this upcoming Sunday when the Warriors face the Jazz at home. The Warriors have shown an admirable intensity in their playoff push, and if it continues on Sunday they can break out their razors.