Golden State Warriors 113, Phoenix Suns 107 -- Missed opportunities


A disappearing act in the third quarter bit the Suns in a 113-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, but missed opportunities became the theme of the day. Having the offense operating well through a half and the defense stymieing Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Phoenix seemed in solid shape for a good portion of the game.

But then, the Oracle Arena magic caught up to the Suns.

Thompson and forward David Lee started hitting, the crowd’s energy spun up the pace, and before you could say “splash,” Phoenix found itself trailing by double-digits and losing the third quarter 38-17. The third quarter included a 16-0 burst by the Warriors, 13 points from Klay Thompson — he finished with 22 — and 10 more from Lee.

While some of those 38 points came from beyond the arc, 22 came in the paint. Meanwhile, the Suns could only score four points in the paint.

The Suns, as usual, didn’t fold and were within four points during the final minutes. Stagnant offense and a lack of execution became a pain for Jeff Hornacek’s squad, which was given plenty of opportunity with four missed Golden State foul shots in the final minute. Guard Gerald Green stepped out of bounds curling around a screen out of an inbounds play, summing up the Suns’ night of missed opportunities from both the micro and macro perspectives.

Phoenix fell to ninth place in the Western Conference standings considering its 36-26 record is the same as the Memphis Grizzlies, who hold the tiebreaker. More painfully, the Suns tied Golden State with a 2-2 record in the teams’ the season series.

Goran Dragic added 24 points and six dimes for the Suns, but after a strong effort from the starting backcourt, Phoenix didn’t get much production. Green led the way with 25, Channing Frye scored 16 and P.J. Tucker led the team with nine rebounds, yet the Warriors’ bench ended up winning the day.

Draymond Green and Co. set deadly screens allowing Thompson to find open shots and Curry to squeak away from the Phoenix defense. Mark Jackson’s second unit also held Suns bench force Markieff Morris to 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting — the energy the twins have brought in the past just wasn’t there Sunday, even if they did combine for 21 points, about the season average for the duo.

On to the pregame questions from Dave Dulberg.

Eric Bledsoe is ready, but are the Suns?

The Eric Bledsoe return, be it against the Clippers on Monday or Cavs on Wednesday, will shake up the Suns’ rotation. It’s expected Bledsoe is slowly brought along and starts his post-injury play as a member of the second unit, but how will that change Hornacek’s other guards?

While nobody is going on the same hot take that’s hit Russell Westbrook’s return to the Thunder (in short, some question if the addition of an All-Star hurts) it is a wonder if Gerald Green or Ish Smith could take a big hit in playing time or confidence. Here’s one more reasonable guess: Green is conscious of making a case for his starting shooting guard minutes being a long-term responsibility.

Green led Phoenix with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting to continue his hotstreak.

Smith, meanwhile, continued to contribute. On Sunday, his most notable moment came in freezing Stephen Curry with his patented look-away hesitation move, but Smith also played with a crunch-time unit of Dragic, Channing Frye, Marcus Morris and Green.

Can the Suns hold Stephen Curry under 16 assists?

Curry wasn’t especially on, but he did his usual damage in the passing game. Last time the Suns visited Oakland, Curry put up a triple-double that included career assist and rebounding numbers.

He finished with 18 points and nine assists on 7-of-16 shooting on Sunday. Six of his assists came during the crucial third quarter.

Will Miles Plumlee give it a go, and if so how effective will he be?

Plumlee made a return to the court but came off the bench to spell rookie Alex Len. Either his knee brace or the knee appeared to keep Plumlee from being his usual, springy self. He looked a bit slow moving laterally, forcing Hornacek to go with Shavlik Randolph in the second half.

Len scored three points, all on foul shots, and grabbed three rebounds. He also blocked a shot and had a few offensive bat-outs go un-tabulated on the stat sheet.

  • Dave:f32

    Sad state of affairs when your leading rebounder is the scrappy PJ Tucker, which grabbed more boards (8) than Chunning Fray, Mo Bro, and any other “big” the Suns have on the roster. Oh, and Alex Len IS NOT a bust bcuz no one rookie can get 3pts 3 rebounds and 5 foouls like him, the doofus look notwithstanding! This Suns squad is on the outside (9th) looking in, with Memphis having the tie-break advantage.

  • Dave:f32

    The lack of defense in the paint has put the Suns on notice: all NBA teams are aware of the weakness! They shall exploit it as they see fit…

  • Sjose

    Was at the game. Warrior fans are loud but they are clowns. Given that many must cheer for the Raiders as well, it doesn’t surprise me. We had our chances, and really should get a shot in the arm with Bledsoe back. Our offense gets too stagnant when only Dragon can consistently set up his own shot.

  • bill_thomas

    Why do we bring on Shavlik at 6’9″ when what we lack is rim protection?

    Them again, we barely play him.

    We apparently have two centers in Plumlee and Len who can go for only very limited minutes due to injury issues, but we do not bring on a replacement.

    Guys who might be replacements are signing 10-day contracts all over the place.

    Every team is setting records for points in the paint against us, and yet we expect to win games against very good teams. This dishonors all our players especially our backcourt players who are competing at the highest level.

    Finally, does anyone bother to study films before games? I would think the Warriers and their offensive sets should be second nature to us by now, but apparently not.

    Does anyone call a time out during a 22-5 run? And if it is called, what transpires?

  • Luka

    Frye or the Morris brothers don’t get it done consistently enough. Rinse and repeat. With Bledsoe we can mask or disadvantage in the post. Regardless of what happens it’s been a fun year, and we’ve still got plenty of time.

  • Anonymous

    There’s still like 20 more games to go, you guys are acting like this was the last chance to get into the playoff spot.

  • DBreezy

    Hopefully they can steal a W tomorrow in LA, but it all still seems about having a strong showing in the run from the 12th to the 30th while working Bledsoe back in. Obviously they’re unlikely to win them all, but if they can go on a run to win the overwhelming majority of them, I’m not sure there’s much Memphis can do about it. They have to be lamenting 3 recent losses to Brooklyn, Cleveland, and Charlotte.

  • vtsunrise

    That wasn’t a splash. It was a 3rd quarter tidal wave. Suns were underdogs last night as they’ll be tonight. But that’s a game they had and lost grasp of. A shame. One game at a time, down to the final weekend.

    On the positive side, the Suns play best against the best and they play best with a fire in their bellies.

    I brought kindling. Anyone got a match?

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    I thought they should have just left Len out there, Plumlee understandably wasnt as effective coming off an injury, and really, he has been in a major slump since February

    We need to start bringing Frye off the bench, i love what he does for this team but we are getting murdered in the paint, and you cant really expect Plumlee or Len or Randolph to guard both his man and Fryes

    the Suns had plenty of chances down the stretch, including an amazing 6 straight missed free throws

    oh well, bring on the next game against the Clippers

  • bill_thomas

    5 straight missed free throws? I’ll take a min wage job for a week if they’ll get docked a week’s pay and their bitch will be cut off from the credit card for ten days.

  • bill_thomas

    Let’s hire Ted’s ghost. This team has the feel of Chappaquiddick.

  • bill_thomas

    Cut the bitch off from the credit card for 30 days and you will see a major improvement in their performance. Also, cut off the dope deliveries.

  • bill_thomas

    Who wants to PRACTICE free throws ???????????????

  • bill_thomas

    How about desk jobs with desk job pay ????????

  • john

    Does anyone have a clue what @bill_thomas is going on about?

  • Foreveris2long

    FRYE may have the slowest feet for a power forward who is not considered bulky (Z-Bo) I have ever seen. Well P. Gasol is in the same boat as he too cannot guard anyone on the perimeter. If Frye guards someone 10 or 15 feet from the basket, the opponent’s eyes must light up knowing they are about to blow by Frye in a heart beat. IT is extremely painful watching him play defense.

    Interestingly, Warriors broadcast team liked Len and commented they could understand why he was taken number 5 in the draft. I loved his closeout on Curry shooting a three, without fouling him. He absolutely makes bonehead plays but IMO he shows a lot of promise. He may take the starting job from Plumlee sometime next season.

    Outside of Planet Orange, what is wrong with Miami, OKC, Portland and Indiana? All of these teams are struggling when they should be close to jelling.

    Hawki,
    I saw more UCLA basketball this weekend and admit to having reservations about both Adams and Anderson. While both are very good college players, Adams is an off guard who seems undersized with slow feet defensively. I want to see Anderson in the tournament but he too has relatively slow feet.However his length and ball handling gives him an advantage on offense. I am not sure Adams gets drafted. I think Anderson will get drafted but probably late in the 1st round.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    John

    bill is sitting at his desk, throwing wadded up pieces of paper into a can which is situated under his Ted Kennedy poster, all the while smoking hi-grade marijuana.
    Actually, quite impressive….23 in a row into the wastebasket.

    Also…Hornacek says Bledsoe will not start initially….but after a few games, he’s not sure how the rotation will shake out.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever

    I like Anderson at the NBA level because of his versatility….a guy who can come off the bench & fill a few different roles. True, he is not that athletic but does a lot of things well & his 3 pt shot is improving.

    I think Adams goes back to UCLA for his junior year.
    They are bringing in a 5 star PF from Milwaukee named Kevart Looney who is 6’9″ to go with Tony Parker underneath. If Zack Levine comes back (and he should) to go with Adams on the wings with the coach’s son, Bryce Alford at the point, you are looking at a possible Final 4 team.

    The knock on Adams is also his lack of athleticism but he is one of the top handful of pure shooters in the NCAA & is athletic enough (imo) to be a contributor off the bench at the NBA level.

  • Foreveris2long

    Yeah Hawki, Anderson has attributes that could help make him perform at a high level in the NBA. He can overcome his slight athleticism with his other attributes. It will be interesting if Suns express interest in him. It would be a great idea for Adams to stay in school. He is listed at 6″5″ but I have my doubts as to its accuracy. Another year would do him well. Levine should definitely come back for another season. As always I appreciate and enjoy your insight.

  • ellensburgbballfan

    Yeah I also really like Kyle Anderson as one of our picks

    Excellent rebounder, can really pass, play 3 positions

    I would be delighted to get him

  • DZ

    @john – bill_thomas is notorious for getting wasted and posting multiple incomprehensible posts here. He’s been gone from this site for a while but he is obviously back now. Be prepared for 30-40 nonsensical posts by him in a row in response to any single article in the future.

  • bill_thomas

    @Hawki, it was more like cheap/mid range wine, I can’t afford the high-powered smoking stuff. But you were right about the desk and the wadded up papers, LOL.

  • bill_thomas

    @DZ, that must be a stalking horse name for some prior poster on here before bc i don’t recognize it.

    Anyway, I think we can all agree without exception that we’re happy that obsessive jerk who liked to go on about “DTragic” is gone.

    I feel sorry for his wife/ex-wife, and any children he may have. He’s prolly a retired engineer.