Flat Warriors run through by Nash, Suns

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Flat Warriors run through by Nash, Suns

Feb. 10, 2011BOX SCORE WARRIORS VIDEONBA PAGE NBA SCOREBOARD

PHOENIX (AP) Three days after his 37th birthday, Steve Nash has the Phoenix Suns finally back at .500 for the season. He even got a little extra rest, too.The Suns' seemingly ageless playmaker had 18 points and 11 assists, then sat out the fourth quarter on Thursday night and watched Phoenix complete a 112-88 rout of the Golden State Warriors, the Suns' most one-sided win this season.Channing Frye added 17 points and nine rebounds as the Suns beat the Warriors for the second time in four nights to climb to .500 (25-25) for the first time since Dec. 19."We'd like to be at about .650 but we have a lot of work to do," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said. "I thought we did a good job. We took care of business right from the start."Ekpe Udoh and Brandan Wright scored 16 apiece for the Warriors. Monta Ellis, the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA at 25.4 points per game, managed just eight on 4 of 13 shooting.
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The Suns made it a blowout with a 20-0 run, the last 14 points of the first half and first six of the second, to go up 71-42, Phoenix's biggest lead against anyone this season - up to that point. The Warriors missed 13 shots during that stretch.Phoenix led by as many as 33 in the fourth quarter."Our defense has been pretty good the last couple of weeks," Nash said. "That has given us an opportunity to take some pressure off the offense and build some leads."Jared Dudley scored 13 points, including his first dunk of the season, and Robin Lopez had 12 for Phoenix. Rookie Zabian Dowdell, signed to fill in for injured Goran Dragic, scored 10 - six more than he'd ever had in an NBA game.Dudley, who had promised 10 dunks this season, got plenty of grief from his teammates after he finally got one."Man, Dudley made one and I missed one," Frye said. "Somebody should go outside and see if pigs are flying."Phoenix, winner of five of its past six overall, won its 28th straight at home against a Pacific Division foe not named the Los Angeles Lakers.The Warriors shot 40 percent lowering the Suns' opposition field goal shooting to 42.3 percent in the past 11 games. Only Miami and Boston have done better in that brief span.Golden State had won four of five overall, most recently 116-114 over Denver on Wednesday night. Both losses in its past six came against the Suns.
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Coach Keith Smart said that his team lacked the energy necessary to keep up with the Suns."You share with the younger players how hard it is that you have to play every night in the NBA, back to back in particular," he said, "but there's nothing you can do with it. We didn't play well to start the game off in the first half. We didn't have the energy we needed to have against this team."The Warriors - coming off an eight-game home stand - scored the first two points Thursday night, then never led again.The 14-0 surge to finish the half was part of a 17-3 overall outburst that put Phoenix ahead 65-42 at the break. The Suns shot 60 percent for the half, with Nash leading the way with 14 points and eight assists.Frye made a jumper, then Vince Carter scored twice to start the third quarter. The 20-point run finally ended when Ellis hit a 14-footer with 8:38 left in the third quarter.Golden State is 0-3 against Phoenix this season."It was bad from start to finish, similar to the last game we played them," the Warriors' David Lee said. "I feel like we got outplayed at all five positions from the start of the game to the end."Notes: Nash was 3 of 3 at the foul line to move back ahead of Mark Price as the most accurate free-throw shooter in NBA history, 90.3916 percent to Price's 90.3895 percent. Price is an assistant coach for the Warriors. ... Dragic missed his fifth straight game after cutting his left foot stepping on glass at his home . ... The Suns have won 10 of 14. .. Phoenix goes to Salt Lake City to face Utah on Friday night in the Jazz's first game since coach Jerry Sloan resigned on Thursday. ... The Suns had never led by more than 25 this season and hadn't won by more than 18. ... Ellis was 9 of 30 shooting the past two games against Phoenix.

Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks

Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks

So the Golden State Warriors don’t get a commuter series after all, and they get to play a team that plays as slow as they play fast, and they get to play at altitude – all things we will pretend matter greatly when this Western Conference semifinal series begins Tuesday night.

It won’t.

Well, let’s calm down a bit. It almost certainly won’t.

The Utah Jazz is not an easy out, not by a long shot. For one, they are not a mere shard of their former selves as the Clippers would have been. For two, they are pretty damned healthy as playoff basketball teams go. And for three, they are Memphis-funky, by which we mean like the Grizzlies, they pose conundrums unlike most teams that take awhile to break down and reassemble in a more digestible form.

On the other hand, they are not of Warrior quality, and though that seems frankly too smug by half, it is nonetheless true.

Now while the Golden States have their own issues – Steve Kerr’s head, Kevin Durant’s calf and Stephen Curry’s shoes – the Jazz are counterpunchers in the parlance. Not good enough to knock you out, but good enough to make you punch yourselves into exhaustion.

Golden State is 14-4 against the Jazz in the last five years, but it is the last year that counts most because this is the season in which the Jazz decided to attack the Warriors from beyond the three-point arc rather than the more traditional Rudy Gobert-Derrick Favors-low block route. Thus seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider that the one game Utah won, the 81st game of the season, they took 38 threes without Gordon Hayward playing, but head coach Quin Snyder has shown himself to be a more flexible coach than the one who collapsed at the college level.

But the way to understand the Jazz is not concern oneself with what they do but with what they will attempt to prevent the Warriors from doing. The Jazz ranks 2nd in threes allowed and percentage of those threes made, and they also rank a demonstrative last in pace.

So what we’re really talking about here, for those who want to get beneath the we’re-better-than-you-are nyah-nyah-nyah level, is whether Utah can make Golden State what it wants rather than the other way around. If Utah gets its way, the scores will be in the high-nineties, low-hundreds range, as they are 37-10 holding the opponent under 100 points (including the Clipper series), while the Warriors were held under 100 only six times.

Conversely, the Warriors held 29 teams under 100, and were 27-2 in those games, so the Warriors are actually more efficient than Utah even at a languid pace.

In other words, the Warriors are better at what Utah does than Utah is, which is probably why you will see and hear lots of smug this week and next among all non-Warrior employees. Barring injury, or Mike Brown quitting coaching and turning the job over to . . . well, actually the only name that might even pose a threat here is Quin Snyder . . . the Warriors have no business being extended beyond five games.

But that was the logic that fans took into last year’s Oklahoma City series, and the Memphis series before that. Not every series is 2016 Houston or 2015 New Orleans, and no titles are ordained, as anyone who watched the last five minutes of Game 7 last year an grumpily testify.

In other words, Utah will make this harder than it looks, even if it doesn’t end up looking that hard, if that makes any sense, which it actually doesn’t.

Just trust us on this. Utah lost 10 games by double digits this year. They fall reluctantly and with considerable rancor. But these are the Warriors, and ultimately, the chances are considerable to the point of prohibitive that they will indeed fall.

We think.

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors marched through the first round of the playoffs, winning by an average of 18 points while sweeping Portland, the second round shapes up to be considerably more difficult.

The Utah Jazz are much deeper, play some of the best defense in the NBA and play their home games at altitude, which partially explains why only five teams posted better records at home.

That the Warriors won two of the three regular-season meetings is somewhat inconsequential. In two of those games, Utah was without All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill. Power forward Derrick Favors missed all three games.

Regardless of the results of this series, there definitely will be a different look.

Here is our preview of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series (first-round statistics in parenthesis):

MATCHUPS

POINT GUARD: Stephen Curry (29.8 points per game, 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds) vs. George Hill (16.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.1 rpg): Hill’s availability was been crucial to the regular-season success of the Jazz; he missed 33 games. Utah was 15-1, however, when he scored at least 20 points. Curry may be the most dangerous scorer among all point guards, and he’ll be a load for Hill. EDGE: Curry.

SHOOTING GUARD: Klay Thompson (18.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg) vs. Joe Ingles (6.6 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.9 rpg): Aside from a couple brief hot streaks, Thompson struggled with his shot in the first round. He’ll fix that, and he’ll torch Ingles (or Rodney Hood). Ingles is crafty inside but of most concern when he’s beyond the arc. He has little chance of producing offense with Thompson as the primary defender. EDGE: Thompson.

SMALL FORWARD: Kevin Durant (21.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) vs. Gordon Hayward (23.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.9 apg): Two All-Stars, only one of which is headed for the Hall of Fame. The Jazz, quite simply, have no answer for Durant’s offensive arsenal. Their best hope is that he is assigned to Hayward and has to expend energy on defense. EDGE: Durant.

POWER FORWARD: Draymond Green (13.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 4.3 blocks per game) vs. Boris Diaw (6.0 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.7 rpg): Oddly enough, Diaw, because of his bulk and passing ability, is one of the few players who can give Green fits. Diaw won’t score much, but Utah could play through him at times. Green will try to run the big man off the floor. EDGE: Green.

CENTER: Zaza Pachulia (6.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) vs. Rudy Gobert (8.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg): Pachulia will need plenty of help from his bench, and he’ll get it. His role will be to free up scorers for shots coming off picks. Opportunities will be there, because Gobert tends to hunker down in the paint. He’s a terrific shot-blocker, but don’t be surprised if the Warriors test him inside. EDGE: Gobert.

SIXTH MAN: Andre Iguodala (7.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), 4.5 apg) vs. Joe Johnson (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg): This is a fun matchup of wily veterans who rely on profoundly different styles. While Iguodala plays fast and is disruptive on defense, Johnson is deliberate and offensive-minded and is playing very well. Johnson also is among the game’s best clutch shooters. Iguodala finds more subtle ways to make an impact. EDGE: Even.

BENCHES: The Warriors are about as healthy as they have been at any time over the past two months, which means they are deep with players capable of producing. Matt Barnes is ready and Shaun Livingston is set to return no later than Game 2. The Warriors have considerable size, and they’ll need it. JaVale McGee and David West will come in handy against the likes of Favors, Diaw and Gobert. Both benches were effective in the first round. EDGE: Warriors, but it’s slight.

COACHING: With Steve Kerr out indefinitely, Mike Brown remains as acting head coach. He has plenty of postseason experience, as does veteran assistant Ron Adams. Jazz coach Quin Snyder did a tremendous job in the regular season when a slew of injuries could have knocked the team off course. He also is coming off his first playoff series victory as a head coach. EDGE: Warriors, due to experience.

ORACLE VS. VIVINT: Oracle Arena was massive for the Warriors in their first round, at times waking thunderous echoes of the “We Believe” experience in 2007. Vivint Smart Home Arena has a well-earned reputation for hurling loud insults at visiting players. The Utah crowd had better be careful, though, because the Warriors tend to thrive off crowd abuse. EDGE: Oracle.

PREDICTION: Warriors in four, five if they get bored.