Klay Thompson

What we learned as Warriors' wild comeback falls short in loss to Suns

NBC Universal, Inc. Scott Foster gives Chris Paul a double technical, and Steve Kerr a technical foul just before halftime as the Golden State Warriors trail the Phoenix Suns.

Steph Curry’s first stinker to his standards this season resulted in a 123-115 Warriors loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at Footprint Center. That was far from the full story.

The Warriors used all 12 of their active players, and Steve Kerr’s squad fought until the final seconds. They trailed by 23 points and the reserves brought it down to six with a minute left and just kept clawing, bringing it down to a three-point game with 12 seconds to go.

Led by backups and rookies, the Warriors outscored the Suns 40-32 in the fourth quarter.

Brandin Podziemski was a plus-20 in 23 minutes off the bench with 10 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Cory Joseph was a plus-12 in 16 minutes and Dario Saric, plus-12, was the bench’s top scorer with 17 points.

The bench scored 53 points and nearly pulled off an improbable comeback in Phoenix.

Klay Thompson also had his second straight game of at least 20 points, but Steph Curry scored a season-low 16 points. He failed to score 20 points for the first time this season. Curry shot 6 of 15 from the field and 1 of 5, ending his streak of 14 straight games of making at least four 3-pointers to start the season.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors falling to 7-9 on the season.

Klay Keeps It Going

Thompson topping 20 points for the first time this season Monday against the Houston Rockets had to be a major relief, for all parties. How Thompson responded was more important than a one-off. And he stayed hot throughout the first quarter in the desert Wednesday night in Phoenix.

The sharp-shooting Splash Brother scored the Warriors’ first six points of the game, 11 of their first 13 and totaled 11 in the first quarter on 4-of-7 shooting. Thompson in the first quarter of the past two games has scored 23 points, an average of 11.5 points, on 50 percent shooting (8 of 16) and 55.5 percent (5 of 9) beyond the arc. Thompson has scored 10 or more points in a quarter three times this season, and his high for a quarter has come in the past two first quarters.

There have been times this season where a big quarter from Thompson doesn’t result in much more. Not this time. He kept going, finishing the night with a season-high 23 points in 25 minutes on 8-of-17 shooting and went 6 of 10 on 3-pointers. His eight made shots tied a season high, and his six made threes are a new season high, beating his previous best of five.

Getting Thompson in a groove, with Draymond Green and Gary Payton back in the near future, will be huge in the Warriors finding their stride.

The Why Not Group

Kerr could have been accused of waving the white flag at the 4:16 mark in the fourth quarter. In came Gui Santos and Joseph to join Podziemski, Moses Moody and Saric. Durant and Booker both were on the floor for the other side.

Instead of folding, the rag-tag group gave instant energy and was a plus-4 for the remainder of the quarter, outscoring the Suns 9-5. So, Kerr stayed with the lineup to begin the fourth quarter, too.

And the move kept working. They opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run over the first two minutes to cut their deficit to 10 points. The group stayed together until the 9:18 mark in the fourth quarter with the Suns up 94-82. Overall, they were a plus-8, scoring 16 points to the Suns’ eight in 6 minutes and 58 seconds.

The Warriors in that span shot 6 of 10 on 2-pointers, but only 1 of 4 on threes. Their defense is what gave Phoenix fits. The Suns missed all six of their 2-pointers, and went 2 of 5 from deep. Curry and Thompson were on their way to sitting the entire fourth quarter. The Warriors wouldn’t even have had a chance if it weren’t for these guys.

Blow The Whistle

The first half was full of whistles, and the Warriors were on the wrong end more often than not. They were called for 17 fouls through the first two quarters as the Suns made the free throw line their second home. Phoenix came into the night tied for sixth in the NBA for averaging 24.9 free throw attempts per game.

They went 22 of 27 at the free throw line … in the first half.

Scott Foster hit Chris Paul with two straight technical fouls, sending him to the locker room with 23 seconds remaining in the first half. Foster then gave Steve Kerr a tech right after. The Suns took five straight free throws at the end of the first half, giving them a 10-point advantage at the line.

But the refs weren’t the only reason the Warriors were outscored 37-16 in the second quarter and trailed the Suns 63-47. The Warriors went into halftime with only 11 assists but 11 turnovers, resulting in 18 points for the Suns. Golden State gave the ball away only eight times in Monday night’s win.

The Suns ended up going 44 of 52 at the free throw line. Phoenix took 33 more free than Golden State and made 25 more than them. The Warriors were also called for 34 fouls, 12 more than the Suns.

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