Inside The Paint: Warriors started fast and kept foot on accelerator
Andre Iguodala was 3-for-4 from the field in 25 minutes, connecting on both 3-point attempts. (USATSI)
OAKLAND -- This one was 12 days in the making, stewing in their stomachs, steeping in their minds, and it was clear from the opening tipoff Friday that the Warriors intended to rain down upon the Suns.
And when the Warriors (18-13) did exactly that, running Phoenix off the Oracle Arena floor in a 115-86 victory, there was laughter and smiling and jokes in the locker room.
[RECAP: Warriors 115, Suns 86]
It's easy to laugh when you've not only won but also restored some pride.
"You could say that," forward David Lee said with a grin.
One of the low points of this Warriors season was a 106-102 loss in Phoenix on Dec. 15. They played in fits and starts, and the coaching staff took note. Assistant coach Pete Myers tried to inject some passion during a timeout. Head coach Mark Jackson said afterward that he wanted more desire from his team. Not one player could deny the lethargy.
Twelve days later, that loss and its aftermath still a wart on their collective face, the Warriors erupted like a volcano. The Suns (17-11) never had a chance.
Stephen Curry, from the beginning, made sure of that. The Warriors never trailed after the first four minutes, as Curry led a first-half surge that built a 59-40 halftime lead. In the process of nabbing his third career triple-double, Curry finished the half with 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
"We know how capable they are," Curry said. "They've shown that and surprised a lot of teams with how hard they play and how relentless they are for 48 minutes. They did that to us for three quarters down there, and we found a way to make it a game in Phoenix and came up a little short. We didn’t want to let them assert themselves more than we did early in the game. We fed off the start, for the whole game."
Two areas often preached by Jackson -- defense and effort -- were on full display. The Warriors worked up a sweat, and they did it productively. Phoenix shot 36 percent and committed 17 turnovers, leading to 22 points by the Warriors. Suns guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, so marvelous in the earlier meeting, combined to make only six of 18 shots.
"Give my guys credit because they paid attention to detail, competed, made extra effort plays and contested shots," Jackson said. "It was a thing of beauty the way we defended."
The Warriors put it away with a 25-8 run to close the first half, taking a 59-40 lead. Nothing changed in the second half, as the Suns never got closer than 17.
"This is probably one of the few games where we've actually not had any lapses through the whole 48 minutes," Curry said. "We put together a pretty complete performance tonight and we have to keep doing that."
THE GOOD: The second quarter, when the Warriors outscored the Suns 31-18, holding them to 32 percent shooting, was a portrait of defense. Frame it and put it on a wall.
Curry brought immediate energy and production, and his teammates followed his lead. He did not shoot well (5 of 17) and he committed seven turnovers. Still, he was driving force behind this victory. Curry did what good leaders do. He found a way.
THE BAD: The Warriors committed 21 turnovers, with Lee adding four to Curry's seven. The mishaps led to 19 Phoenix points -- and the Suns still lost by 25. That's how dominant the Warriors were.
THE TAKE: There was evident urgency, splendid execution and dogged defense. Top to bottom, tip to buzzer, the Warriors were as good as they have been in any game this season. It was the kind of performance that fosters belief the Warriors are a 50-win team capable of stirring up the postseason.