Warriors-Suns: What to watch for

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Warriors-Suns: What to watch for

Programming note: Warriors-Suns coverage from Phoenix begins at 5:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live and the tip-off following at 6 p.m., only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!
The Warriors play the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday in theirfinal game before All-Star weekend. The game against the Suns is the first ofsix consecutive road games for Golden State.
The Warriors have not been very successful at AmericanAirways Center, having dropped 13 in a row there. The last time the Warriorswon in Phoenix was back on March 18, 2005.The Warriors and Suns have split two games this season. TheSuns defeated the Warriors 102-91 on Jan. 2, and the Warriors defeated Phoenix102-96 just nine days ago at Oracle Arena.Here are some things to watch for during Wednesdays gamebetween the Warriors and Suns:Always about Nash: It usually starts andends with point guard Steve Nash, Phoenixs two-time MVP. Nash is on a big-timeroll right now, having dished out 58 assists in the past four games, and sohes as important a piece to the Suns offense as hes ever been.RELATED: Steve Nash game logs
One school of thought is to try to make Nash a scorer,therefore limiting his ability to get teammates involved. But over the years,Nash always has done a great job of taking what the defense gives him, and ifthe Warriors allow him open shots, hell willingly take them.Defend the 3: The Suns are at their mostdangerous when they spread the floor and allow Nash to penetrate and findshooters. The last time the Warriors and Suns played, Golden State did a nicejob of contesting 3-point shots.Phoenix went just 5-for-25 from 3-point range on Feb. 13 atOracle Arena, with Channing Frye shooting 1-for-8 from beyond the arc. Frye isan important player for the Suns because when he is knocking down 3-pointers,it allows center Marcin Gortat more room to operate in the middle.Encore for Udoh?: Ekpe Udoh is coming offhis first start of the year, and he had a big game for the Warriors. Withstarting center Andris Biedrins out with flu-like symptoms, Udoh scored 19points and grabbed eight rebounds in 38 minutes against the Clippers.REWIND: Warriors take down Paul, Clippers behind Monta's 32
Warriors coach Mark Jackson hinted strongly that Udoh could remainin the starting lineup even after Biedrins returns. But that turns out not to be the case, as Jackson announced Wednesday morning Biedrins would once again start. When Udoh enters on Wednesday, hell have to match up with thebigger, stronger Marcin Gortat, who had a big game the last time these teamsplayed. Gortat had 15 points and 12 rebounds in Phoenixs loss to the Warriorson Feb. 13.Bench output: Despite Udoh still coming off the bench, it seems obvious that he'll log more minutes with the starters moving forward. Itwill be interesting to see how that affects the second unit. While Udoh wasnta big scorer for the second team, he was an integral piece, providing defensein the middle.The Warriors bench combined for 38 points in the teams winover Phoenix nine days ago.

Secret weapon: Warriors dial up more third quarter magic to beat Orlando

Secret weapon: Warriors dial up more third quarter magic to beat Orlando

Superman has his phone booth, Popeye his spinach and Ali had his rope-a-dope. The greats often have a secret weapon to be unleashed upon opponents who dare pose a threat.

The Warriors of the NBA have the third quarter.

Twelve masterful minutes, customarily the third quarter, is all they need to turn all anxieties to swagger and perspiration into perfume.

It was, on cue, the third quarter that doomed the temporarily uppity Magic in a 118-98 victory on Sunday at Amway Center in Orlando.

Tied 50-50 and down five (55-50) 90 seconds into the third quarter, the Warriors went on a 19-2 tear to go up 12 with 6:54 left. Orlando, which had been encouraged by outplaying the Warriors for the first 25-plus minutes, was powerless to prevent the onslaught.

“We found our energy and execution and stopped turning the ball over,” Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 27 points, including 7-of-13 shooting from deep, told reporters in Florida. “And after that, we got stops and our talent plays over on the offensive end. It is nice to see shots going in obviously, but you have to get stops and take care of the basketball to get that done.”

The Warriors (38-6) shot 41.9 percent for the field and committed 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to 13 Magic points. Only one Orlando starter, point guard Elfrid Payton, shot less than 50 percent and he was 3-of-8.

So the Warriors, whose sloppy first half could be attributed to the usually early start (9 a.m. Pacific), reached for the prescription that best cures their every ailment. They turned to ferocious defense, which generated torrential offense. They outscored the Magic 42-24 in the third quarter, pretty much putting away the game.

“For whatever reason, we’ve had a bunch really good third quarters in the last couple of weeks,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It seems to be the time when we pick up our defense and it translates into some transition hoops and 3-pointers. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the key time for us these days.”

The third-quarter blitzes are more than a trend. It’s becoming an almost predictable act of magic.

The Warriors have outscored opponents in the third in 17 of their last 19 games -- with the margin double digits on nine of those occasions. In seven of those 17 games, they were tied or trailing at the half. They lost only two of those games, to the Cavs and the Grizzlies, to both of whom they blew sizable fourth-quarter leads.

Furthermore, the Warriors’ plus-268 points differential in the third quarter is by far the best in the NBA.

It was, indeed, the third quarter that shook them from the stupor of those early Sunday wakeup calls.

“There was no morning,” Draymond Green said. “It was wake up, grab some food, put on some sweats, and get out of there. I think my bus was 9:30 a.m. That’s 6:30 a.m. West Coast time . . . it was brutal.”

Must be nice to know that even on brutal days, and even after a throwaway first half, they can usually find enough lightning in the third quarter to find victory.

On anniversary of Kobe's 81, Lakers score 73 in franchise's worst loss

On anniversary of Kobe's 81, Lakers score 73 in franchise's worst loss

BOX SCORE

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks had something to prove on Sunday following two straight tough losses.

Coming off a three-point effort in an overtime loss on Friday, Nowitzki scored all 13 of his points in the first half and Dallas gave the Los Angeles Lakers the worst loss in their history, 122-73.

"We didn't show up to play," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "It's embarrassing for us as a team and for us as an organization. The effort just wasn't there tonight, which I don't understand."

The 49-point defeat just edged Los Angeles' two previous worst losses at 48 points, most recently 123-75 at Utah on March 28, 2016.

The Mavericks' winning margin was the third-largest in their history.

It was Dallas' 13th straight win over the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games overall.

After a season-best three-game winning streak, the Mavericks had blown a nine-point halftime lead at Miami on Thursday and lost to Utah on Friday.

Nowitzki was 1 for 13 against the Jazz, including a missed 3-pointer that would have tied the game in overtime.

"I looked sluggish the other night on that back-to-back," Nowitzki said, "but took a day off yesterday, didn't do anything. Felt a lot better today."

The game was close for 10 minutes, with Dallas leading 23-22 before the Mavericks scored the next 15 points to blow it open. Nowitzki had seven points during the run. He played just 20 minutes.

Justin Anderson led seven Mavericks in double figures with a game-high 19 points in 16 minutes, his most playing time since Dec. 27.

The Mavericks led 67-33 at the half and never looked back. They both scored their most points and allowed the fewest in a half and a game this season. The 34-point halftime lead was the third-largest in franchise history.

The Lakers scored their fewest points in a quarter, a first half and a game.

"What's deflating is that we didn't guard anybody tonight," Lakers forward Julius Randle said.

Lou Williams led the Lakers with 15 points.

Dallas' Seth Curry scored 14 points, including seven straight in the first quarter.

Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams also had 13 points. Devin Harris and Pierre Jackson scored 10 each. Rookies Jackson and Nicolas Brussino (eight points) each reached career highs.

TIP-INS:
Lakers: They played without D'Angelo Russell, second on the team at 14.3 points per game. An MRI taken Saturday showed a mildly sprained right MCL and strained right calf. That left the Lakers with rookie Brandon Ingram starting at point guard, and they had a season-low 10 assists. ... Larry Nance Jr. (bone bruise, left knee) returned after missing 16 games and scored four points.

Mavericks: Dallas' record winning margin was 123-70 win at home over the 76ers on Nov. 13, 2014. They beat the Knicks 128-78 in New York on Jan. 24, 2010. ... J.J. Barea missed his 26th game this season because of a strained left calf aggravated on Friday. Coach Rick Carlisle said he didn't expect Barea back until after the All-Star break (Feb. 24 at the earliest). Andrew Bogut (strained right hamstring) could return this week, according to Carlisle.

LENDING A HAND:
Mavericks G Deron Williams moved into 20th place in NBA history with 6,715 assists, passing Kevin Johnson. Williams has had at least seven assists in seven straight games; on Sunday, he had eight, seven by halftime.

LONG-RANGE:
Nowitzki tied J.R. Smith for 15th place in 3-point field goals by making one for a total of 1,729.

UP NEXT:
Lakers: Travel to Portland for the second game of a three-game trip on Wednesday night.

Mavericks: Complete a three-game homestand on Wednesday night against New York.