The Phoenix Suns have kept their cool in the face of a fiery third-quarter, producing a dominant second half in a 29-point win over the Golden State Warriors.
The game reached boiling point halfway through the third, with the competitive contest reflected in the verbal exchanges between opposing players. But things soon went overboard and Klay Thompson’s ejection spelled the end of the Warriors resistance and the combative nature of the game.
The Phoenix Suns kept their emotions in check to runaway with a comprehensive 134-105 win over the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
Golden State came into the game with some genuine defensive concerns, accentuated by the minutes restrictions on Thompson and Draymond Green. Phoenix looked to exploit that early, with a particular focus on getting Deandre Ayton going. While he didn’t take full advantage with a couple of easy misses, it did force two early fouls on Kevon Looney.
The Suns exploded for 37 points in the opening quarter, catapulted by 5-for-9 shooting from three-point range. The eight-point lead was short lived though as the Warriors bench found energy through Jordan Poole.
The game appeared more like a track meet late in the first half as both sides traded basket after basket with little to no defense. The Warriors were perilous to stop Devin Booker who had 16 first half points, while Ayton made the most of their small-ball lineup with a couple of putbacks on the way to 12 points and 11 rebounds. Perhaps most importantly for the Suns, Chris Paul found his stroke and punctuated the half with a buzzer-beater from three, his third in as many attempts.
The game played secondary focus to extracurricular activities in the third, with players getting heated forcing the referees to intervene. After seven technical fouls were handed out, it hit breaking point as Booker and Thompson had to be separated. The latter was ejected for the first time in his career, and it seemed the whole fiasco distracted Golden State from an otherwise close contest.
Phoenix lifted their defensive intensity and kept the Warriors to 20 third-quarter points. After Thompson was ejected with the score at 83-77, the Suns finished the period on a 22-9 run. The 19-point disparity was never truly threatened, and after Golden State had reduced the margin to 12, Phoenix waltzed away with the game in commanding fashion.
In a routine staple at this point, Booker dominated the contest with 34 points and seven assists. Ayton had 16 points and 14 rebounds while Mikal Bridges had 17 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. But the most important takeaway may have been Paul who delivered his best game of the season with 16 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.
The Suns shot 51.1% from the floor and 41.4% from three-point range — the Warriors ill-equipped to handle the mastery of Phoenix’s All-Star backcourt. Golden State shot just 28.6% from three and although Curry dished out eight assists, the Suns tactic to force others to make shots was clearly successful.
After a rough offseason and some serious question marks on the roster, things at the Suns now appear a lot more rosy after two assertive wins over Western Conference rivals. They’ll look to move to 4-1 when they host the exciting New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.