photo from sfgate.com: Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee (1) drives past Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Phoenix.
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors, down to eight healthy players, found a way to beat the Phoenix Suns Saturday night 115-99. Draymond Green was out with left knee soreness, Jordan Poole and Ky Bowman were out with ankle injuries.
Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr had to figure out another starting lineup. He inserted Dragan Bender and Juan Toscano-Anderson at forward and guard. Andrew Wiggins returned to action after suffering back spasms last Thursday. Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney, and Mychal Mulder were the only players to come off the bench.
The Suns easily won the first quarter 41-28. They took an early lead, and the Warriors played catchup for the first 12 minutes of play. The Warriors offense picked up in the second quarter. The Warriors outscored the Suns 33-24 to finish the first half trailing 65-61.
The Warriors trailed for most of the third period. They were able to tie the game at 72. The Suns could not get their offense going at all in the period. The Warriors went on 16-0 run to finish the period leading 92-81. The Warriors won the third quarter 31-16.
The Warriors continued to hold the Suns’ offense in check as they held them to just 18 points. The Warriors did not fold down the stretch and finished with the win 115-99.
Game Notes and Stats- The Warriors had two former first-round picks of the Suns in their starting lineup Saturday. Marquese Chriss, number eight, and Dragan Bender, number four, in the 2016 draft had to enjoy beating the team that let them go.
Chriss finished the night with 11 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Bender had 13 points and eight boards. Rookie Eric Paschall, thriving coming off the bench, led the team with 25 points, three boards, and four assists. Damion Lee had 20, and Kevon Looney added ten.
Mychal Mulder, on a ten-day contract and playing in his second NBA game, had 14 points and six rebounds. Andrew Wiggins finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
Steve Kerr had this to say about his team’s performance: “The joy in that locker room right now, the relief, everybody’s smiling and happy and excited “Our team’s played hard all year and competed, but at times has been out-manned. So every win becomes sweeter.”
The Suns, trying for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, had to wonder how they could have lost at home to the lowly Detroit Pistons and the Golden State Warriors.
They did lose Kelly Oubre Jr. to a torn meniscus. However, injuries are part of the game, and the Suns need someone to step up and fill the void. That did not happen in the last two games. Devin Booker led the Suns with 21, Deandre Ayton 20, Mikal Bridges 15, Elie Okobo 14, and Dario Saric 11.
The Warriors shot 47% from the floor. Phoenix shot 41%. The Warriors out rebounded the Suns 49-40. The Warriors recorded 30 assists. For a team with so many new players, the stat had to please the coaches. The Warriors defense forced the Suns to commit 19 turnovers. The Warriors turned the ball over just ten times.
The Warriors announced that their team leader, Steph Curry, will not play Sunday against the Washington Wizards. Curry will play on Sunday in Santa Cruz for the G-League Warriors. Steve Kerr wants him to get some additional conditioning before returning to the NBA grind.
The Warriors meet the Washington Wizards at the Chase Center Sunday night at 5:30 pm.