The two best teams in the Western Conference went toe to toe Tuesday night as the Golden State Warriors took on the Phoenix Suns.
Suns Assert Themselves as the Best in the West
Historically Hot Starts
The Warriors’ 18-2 record coming into this game is reminiscent of their dynasty days. This team has won seven straight and nine of their last ten outings. Stephen Curry has been playing at an MVP level and has the Warriors atop the standings in the West. What’s even more impressive? Golden State is doing all of this without Klay Thompson, who is reportedly practicing at 100% and could be returning to the team soon.
Phoenix has had an equally impressive start to their season. The defending Western Conference Champions came into the game 17-3, good enough for second in the west and in the league. The Suns had won 16 straight games going into the contest. This is one win shy of the franchise record and is the longest winning streak of any NBA team since the Milwaukee Bucks won 18 in a row in the 2018-19 season.
Warriors vs. Suns: Off to the Races
The first quarter was a high-scoring affair. Both teams combined for 66 total points. Golden State took an early lead behind a scoring outburst from Jordan Poole. Poole is third on the team with an average of 18 points per game. In this contest, he had 16 by the end of the first. Poole connected on four threes in the quarter and helped to make up for a slow first half from Curry. Andrew Wiggins struggled from the floor early and Kevon Looney was dominated by Deandre Ayton and the Suns’ frontcourt. Otto Porter Jr. provided a lift off of the bench, providing some much-needed offense and shooting efficiency.
Booker Goes Down
Phoenix took control of the second quarter, holding the Warriors to just 19 points in the period. While the Suns would outscore Golden State by six and take a two-point lead into the locker room, the biggest story of the first half was the early exit of Devin Booker. The Suns’ MVP candidate left the game with approximately six minutes remaining in the half due to a hamstring injury. Booker had 10 points at the time of his departure. He was forced to leave the game after hurting the leg during a drive to the basket.
A Strong Second Half for the Suns
Phoenix rallied without their star in the second half. Ayton was huge in the paint, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Jae Crowder and Cam Johnson contributed from beyond the arc, combining to shoot 7-16 from deep. Chris Paul was clutch for his team, scoring 15 points, assisting on 11 baskets, and nabbing 5 steals. The Suns’ team defense was the story of this game. Phoenix forced 23 turnovers and frustrated Curry into a 4-21 shooting night. They really tightened the clamps in the fourth quarter, holding Golden State to only 18 points en route to securing a 106-94 victory. Poole led the Warriors in scoring with 28 points while Porter added 16 off the bench. Draymond Green had 8 points and 11 rebounds but had major issues with turnovers in this one.
What’s Next for the Suns and Warriors?
Both teams leave this game with an 18-3 record. The Suns tie their franchise record with a 17th straight victory and have taken over the number one spot in the Western Conference Standings. Phoenix will keep a close eye on Booker’s hamstring injury. He missed four games last January with a similar injury.
The Warriors will be hoping that this was just a bump in the road. Curry had an uncharacteristically bad shooting night, which no one expects to be a trend. They will need to clean up the turnovers and play a cleaner game if they wish to stay in the top half of the standings throughout the season. The fact that this team is where it is without Thompson in the lineup should have the rest of the league concerned.
Phoenix next plays the Detroit Pistons on December 2nd, at 9:00 pm. The Warriors will get a chance at redemption as the Suns and Warriors square off again on Friday at 10 pm.
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