Don’t look now, but the Warriors G-League roster is on fire. After proving they can in fact close out a win seven days ago against the Pelicans, they’ve done nothing but close games out.
Friday was no different as they toppled the Suns (11-20), 105-96, taking control of the game down the stretch. In coming back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Golden State (9-24) has now done what looked almost impossible a few weeks ago: put together a multiple game winning streak.
The Suns were up 10 with just under nine minutes to go. Then the Warriors closed the game on a 29-10 run to flip the script and pick up their ninth win of the season.
Steve Kerr joked after the game that this team is now unstoppable:
“You can’t stop us; you can only hope to contain us. That’s the thing right now.”
Seriously, Kerr added:
“I just think we got a little momentum and our guys are feeling it. And this is a game we wouldn’t have won a month ago, but they stayed with it… At this point now, you finally kind of believe you can win down the stretch.”
Alec Burks came into the contest on a tear, but cooled off considerably — at least early on.
Phoenix dared him to shoot from the outside, and he was all too eager to appease them but shot just 1-of-10 entering the fourth quarter. Then he took over and went a perfect 4-of-4 in the final frame to finish with 13 points, and salvaged the night for him and as well as the team.
While he was struggling it was D’Angelo Russell and Damion Lee who picked up the slack, just like they have done throughout this season.
Lee went for his usual 16 points, which has become almost automatic these last few weeks, and continued to pull down rebounds at an above-average rate with eight, just a game after grabbing a career-high 15.
The one downside is that Lee is approaching his maximum games allowed under his two-way contract. He has 12 days left before he has to be sent to Santa Cruz. In order to avoid that, the Warriors will need to trade someone under contract with the team and take back no money.
It’s an awkward situation to be in, but Lee is doing his best to ignore it:
“At the end of the day, I’ll be honest, I don’t know how many days I have left. Same with Ky. We just know that whenever we’re up here we try to pick up the intensity, do the intangibles and just play our game.”
His backcourt mate Russell scored 31 points of his own — the fifth straight time he has topped 20 points. He battled Devin Booker for the entire contest, going back and forth with Phoenix’s young shot-maker.
Booker came to Chase in the midst of a four-game slump, averaging just 15.8 points per game over that span on just 37-percent shooting. Well, the Warriors sloppy turnovers and lackluster defense helped him break out of it Friday as he had 17 points before halftime.
He kept on the gas in the second half and singlehandedly took control of the contest. He poured in a game-high 34 points and had an answer for any Warriors run.
The problem for the Suns is that he also had eight turnovers. But he wasn’t alone as the Suns as a whole couldn’t stop fumbling away the ball all night. They had 27 turnovers as a team, most of them coming on unforced errors.
The starting backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Booker combined for 15 turnovers by themselves. That allowed the Warriors to stick around and eventually take the lead, even though they were shooting just 41 percent from the field.
Poor shooting and lazy defense is usually a recipe for an ‘L’, but with all the Suns’ turnovers Golden State shot almost 20 more field goals than the Suns, and those extra opportunities proved to be just enough.
And just like the Houston game, the win was punctuated by another backbreaking 3, by none other than Draymond Green. It’s almost looking like those Warriors teams of old.
Kerr said that when the game is in doubt, Green’s confidence rises to insane levels:
“He had five 3’s in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, he had eight 3’s in a playoff game I think in Portland, and in another playoff game in Houston I think he had seven. The guys just a winner, so when the game matters, when it’s on the line he suddenly becomes a good shooter. He has more belief in his shooting than is probably called for, but that’s a good thing. That’s why he is who he is.”
There will be no rest for the Warriors as they take the court less than 24 hours later when Luka Doncic and the fifth place Mavericks visit Chase.
Eric Paschall was inactive with the hip injury he’s been nursing for a while now. He left the Christmas Day game after playing just seven minutes and has only managed double digit minutes once in his last three games. … Alen Smailagic made his NBA debut in the first quarter and became the fourth youngest player to appear in a game for the Warriors at 19 years and 131 days old. He made an immediate impact as he scored four points in five minutes.