The Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry (30) takes a shot against the Phoenix Suns Devin Booker at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Tue May 11, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
For the second night in a row, the Golden State Warriors (37-33) faced one of the top teams in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns (48-21). The Suns entered the game, still smarting from a 123-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night. If the Suns were to win, they would be just one game behind the Utah Jazz in the race for first place in the Western Conference.
If Utah and Phoenix finish with identical records, Phoenix would be Division champs as they won the season series from the Jazz. The Warriors needed a win to remain in eighth place in the Western Conference. The eighth-place would give the Warriors two chances to make the final eight teams for the Western Conference title. If the Warriors finish in ninth or tenth, one loss will send them home.
Things did not go well for the Warriors in the first half. Phoenix, as so many teams have done, had two men defending Stephen Curry. The Warriors needed someone to step up and fill the void if Curry was shackled. Andrew Wiggins was the man. Wiggins finished the night with 38 points to lead the Warriors to an exciting 122-116 win.
In the first quarter, the teams played a very face-paced, competitive game. The Warriors led 21-20 when Phoenix went on a 16-2 run to lea 36-23. The Suns were making threes, and the Warriors were not. The Suns connected on six threes. Phoenix led 38-29 after the first 12 minutes of action.
Things didn’t get better for Golden State in the second period. The Suns led by 15 points, 55-40, about halfway through the period. Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, and Juan Toscano-Anderson helped the Warriors close the gap to a eight-point deficit, 66-58 at the end of the first half.
The Suns Jae Crowder led his team with 17 points. Crowder knocked down five shots from behind the three-point arc. The 36-year-old veteran point guard, Chris Paul, had 11. Devin Booker had nine. Andrew Wiggins kept the Warriors in the game with 21. Kent Bazemore pitched in with 14. Curry finished with four points. He was 0-for-5 from downtown.
The Warriors knew they had to make adjustments to get Curry open so that he could attempt three-point shots. The Suns knew that the Warriors love to put their opponents away in the third quarter. Neither team would wilt in the quarter.
Curry made his only three-pointer of the night to bring the Dubs within six, 70-64. The Suns Devin Booker held to nine points in the first half, took over the Phoenix offense. Booker poured in 22 points while the rest of the Suns tallied just ten. The Warriors won the quarter 34-32 but still trailed by six, 98-92 heading into the final 12 minutes of play.
The Warriors had to find a way to stop the Phoenix offense in the fourth quarter. Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Juan Toscano-Anderson were the players that held Phoenix to 18 points. The Warriors started the final 12 minutes with their second unit.
Wiggins and Jordan Poole each made a three to tie the game 103-103. Curry made a bucket to tie the game at 105-105. Phoenix went ahead 110-107 with three minutes left. Wiggins connected on a three to tie the game again. Chris Paul responded with a three to put Phoenix ahead 113-110.
Toscano-Anderson made his only three of the night to tie the game at 113-113. Jordan Poole gave the Warriors their first lead since they led 21-20 in the first period. Wiggins made a two-point bucket to give the Warriors a five-point lead 118-113 with 1:21 left.
The Suns Jae Crowder made his sixth three of the night to close within two, 118-116 with 1:10 left. Curry made a floater. Curry made a floater. Golden State led 120-116. The Suns, running out of time, fouled Jordan Poole. Poole made both free throws to seal the win for the Warriors 122-116.
Game Notes and Stats: With the win, the Warriors are 37-33 for the year. They have two games left on the schedule. They meet the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night and finish the season against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies trail the Warriors by 1/2 game in the race for the eighth spot in the conference. Sunday’s game should be a barnburner.
Andrew Wiggins was the player of the game for Golden State. Wiggins finished with 38 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Wiggins was 17-for-24 from the floor, and he connected on two threes. Green finished with a triple-double.
His numbers were 11 points, ten rebounds, and 11 assists. The Warriors rarely lose when Green has a triple-double. Poole had 20 points. Poole made three threes. Kent Bazemore had another solid game on both ends of the court.
Bazemore finished with 17 points. For most players scoring 21 points in a game would be a big night. For Curry, it was an off night. Curry tallied 21 points, three rebounds, and six assists. He was seven-for 22 from the floor, and he made one three in 11 tries. Toscano-Anderson finished with seven points, five rebounds, and six assists. He made one three, but it was huge when it happened in the fourth quarter.
As a team, the Warriors made 47 field goals in 95 attempts. They were 11-for-40 from behind the three-point arc. They outrebounded the Suns 51-40. The Warriors recorded 33 assists on 47 field goals.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 34 points. Chris Paul had 24, and Jae Crowder finished with 20.
The Warriors play the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night at the Chase Center. Zion Williamson will not play. The Pelicans’ star forward due to an injury he suffered last week against the Warriors in Crescent City. The game will start at 6:30 pm