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3 takeaways as Steph drops 50, Warriors lose 8th straight road game

© Mark J. Rebilas | 2022 Nov 16

The Warriors will win a road game at some point, but they’ll have to wait until at least Nov. 20 to get off the schneid.

Golden State is now 0-8 away from Chase Center after Wednesday’s thorough 130-118 loss to the Phoenix Suns at the Footprint Center. It’s the second time the Warriors have been blown out by the Suns in Phoenix already this season.

Stephen Curry was phenomenal once again, dropping 50 points and looking like the best player in the NBA. Despite that, the Warriors still lost by 11 because almost nobody else showed up. The wire-to-wire defeat may be the low point of the young season.

Right now the Warriors are a bad team on the road, and a bad team on defense. Those are two things that have almost never been the case in the Steve Kerr era.

Here are three takeaways:

Steph vs. the Suns and the World

In a few ways, Wednesday’s loss was a microcosm of the season. Primarily, that was reflected in Stephen Curry once again carrying the load to an absurd degree.

Curry was at his best with even less help than usual. He finished with 50 points, nine rebounds and six assists on 17-of-28 shooting. Somehow, he still finished with a plus-minus of -14.

That’s how bad the Warriors were.

In the first half he scored 31 points while missing just four shots. The Warriors were -7.

Most troubling was it wasn’t the bench’s fault this time. Amazingly, the reserves were +3 in the non-Curry minutes.

The rest of the starters — plus Jordan Poole — just couldn’t score. Klay Thompson was awful, going 6-of-17 and 3-of-9 from 3 while forcing up the majority of his shots. His rough start to the season is understandable, but his shot selection while he’s trying to get back on track is becoming a problem.

Somehow, he was still the Warriors’ second leading scorer with 19. Andrew Wiggins shot well but only attempted 11, finishing with 14 points. He was low energy. Jordan Poole was too, scoring just two points and going 0-of-5.

The one thing the Warriors have been able to hang their hat on this season is that despite their poor start, the starters have been championship caliber. That wasn’t close to the case on Wednesday.

Bad fundamentals

Scoring was an issue for the starters, but defense was an issue for the entire team. As was fouling, as was rebounding. Sound familer?

Facing a Suns team without both Chris Paul and Cam Johnson, Phoenix shot over 51% and over 52% from 3-point range. Devin Booker was excellent (27 points) which is to be expected. What’s not to be expected is getting cooked by the likes of Cam Payne (29 points), Miles Bridges (23 points) and Torrey Craig (3-of-5 from 3). Right now, it seems that one drive and kick leads to a wide open shot, which was overwhelmingly the case on Wednesday.

Fouling was also an issue once again, giving the Suns 25 free throws at the stripe, 21 of which were made. Phoenix also out rebounded the Warriors 47-40, including eight offensive, many of which led to second-chance points.

Draymond Green had just two rebounds all night. His lack of energy (sensing a theme here?) also contributed to the team’s lack of defensive effort as a whole.

Where’s that second timeline?

The Warriors have five players on their roster drafted in 2020 or later. They were supposed to be the core of the team’s bench this season. Combined, they played a total of six minutes on Wednesday.

James Wiseman, as it was announced on Monday, is soon to start a G League assignment and will be away from the team for a bit. Jonathan Kuminga was a late scratch with a non-COVID illness. Moody was healthy, but bizarrely did not play (once again) until the second half. Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins got DNPs. If you add in Andre Iguoadala and the Warriors unfilled 15th roster spot, that’s seven roster spots that weren’t utilized.

Moody’s minutes continue to be one of the strangest elements of this very strange start to the season. Wiseman’s demotion makes sense because he was playing awfully. Kuminga — illness notwithstanding — being in and out of the rotation also makes (some) sense considering his play is highly volatile. But Moody has been relatively consistent and is not prone to mistakes, making his short leash head-scratching.

Once again, training camp signee Anthony Lamb took Moody’s spot, his 24 minutes second to only Poole off the bench. It’s a hard decision to understand. Lamb has been a red-hot 3-point shooter and plays good defense, but he brings about the same skills to the table that Moody does. He would seem to have a much lower ceiling and be less a part of the team’s short and long-term plans.

Perhaps it’s Lamb’s consistent effort that Steve Kerr likes, and with that being an issue this year — especially on the defensive end — he’s getting rewarded for it.

 

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